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The Urban Astronomer

Comet C/2012 S1 - Comet ISON Approaches

11 Oct 2013, 18:46 UTC
Comet C/2012 S1 - Comet ISON Approaches
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Comet C/2012 S1Comets are beautiful and engaging to watch, gracefully floating across the night sky, arriving unexpected and sometimes surprising us with an extraordinary show. Some comets are regular visitors to Earth ("short period comets" such as Halley's comet) are very predictable, but others arrive from the vast reaches of the outer Solar System (the Oort Cloud) and might make only one pass through our neighborhood and never be seen again. Comet C/2012 S1, better known as Comet ISON, is of the latter category, on a rendezvous with the Sun in late November, and packing enough ice and mass to become 'the comet of the century.' These predictions sometimes miss spectacularly (anyone remember Comet Kohoutek?) so we always try to plan for comets with lowered expectations and hope to be pleasantly surprised.Finding Comet ISONComet ISON passed near Mars a few weeks ago and is on a near-collision course with the Sun. It's called a Sungrazing Comet and it will pass within a solar diameter of the Sun, so close that it might not survive the trip back out of the Solar System. If it does, however, it is expected to have a beautiful tail and could be quite a spectacle. ...

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