Green comet bad omen for Ticats: Saskatchewan astronomer

Soothsayers have long looked to the skies for signs and now Rider Nation has a doozy — a green-and-white comet that flared up just in time for the Grey Cup.

Professor studying Comet Ison makes tongue-in-cheek prediction

Comet Ison is scheduled to make its closest approach to the sun on Nov. 28. This image of the comet was snapped earlier this month at the European Southern Observatory's installation, in the Chilean Andes. (TRAPPIST/E. Jehin/ESO)

Soothsayers have long looked to the skies for signs and now Rider Nation has a doozy — a green-and-white comet that flared up just in time for the Grey Cup.

To the naked eye, Comet Ison appears in the predawn sky as a dull smudge, but under magnification, it displays the bright hue familiar to all Saskatchewan Roughrider fans.

"Being green and white, I think it's doom for Hamilton," Regina astronomer Martin Beech told CBC News, tongue firmly in cheek. "That would be my interpretation."

Green and white are the team colours of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The team takes on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the Grey Cup on Nov. 24.

The comet comes by its coloration honestly, Beech said, with the green indicating the presence of cyanogen, a toxic gas.

"Many of the telescopic images that have been taken of this comet do show it having a green colour, which is in fact a true colour," he said.

Being green and white, I think it's doom for Hamilton.- Saskatchewan astronomer Martin Beech

Ison was located more than a year ago and is being carefully monitored as it nears its closest encounter with the sun on Nov. 28.

If it survives that, there could be a brilliant display in early December, he said.

Much like the Riders themselves, there were great hopes for Ison earlier in the year, but it was thought to be fizzling out a few weeks ago. Then there was a resurgence.

It's not clear why it brightened so dramatically, said Beech, a professor at Campion College. It may getting hotter or it may be falling apart.

He noted that throughout history, people have seen comets as signs of great or terrible things to come.

Today, he added, some may take note of the fact that Ison has spent billions of years in the outer reaches of the solar system only to appear to us at Grey Cup time.

"Coming in now means it's clearly expecting something spectacular to happen," he quipped.

The Roughriders take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the Canadian Football League championship at home in Regina on Nov. 24.

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