ta152h0 wrote:Something stirred up the Oort cloud. Three comets in one year and presumably all three are " comet of the year " billing ?
Not really. C/2012 S1 (discovered at the ISON observatory) is on a very different orbit than C/2011 L4 (discovered by the PanSTARRS project). I'm not sure what third comet you're referring to.
When comets passing through the inner solar system are discovered, there's never a very solid idea how bright they will be. It's always a a range of estimates, and although the brightest end of the range is often impressive-sounding, the result is usually much less dramatic. The PanSTARRS comet was always expected to be much dimmer than the ISON comet is predicted to be. As usually happens, PanSTARRS has fallen in the middle of the expected brightness range, which is visible, but modest.
It remains to be seen what ISON will do. We got really lucky a couple years ago with C/2006 P1 McNaught, which surprised observers and became bright enough that with careful shielding from the sun, a few observers were able to spot it during the day, and there were some spectacular photos of it at night. Unfortunately for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, it was best spotted in the Southern hemisphere. I only had a few chances to see it during twilight, which is not ideal conditions.
It is possible that C/2012 S1 (ISON) will be even brighter Comet McNaught, but I little dare to hope we'll get so lucky so soon after McNaught's 2007 visit.
"Any man whose errors take ten years to correct is quite a man." ~J. Robert Oppenheimer (speaking about Albert Einstein)