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ISON Q&A: Perihelion

27 Nov 2013, 09:00 UTC
ISON Q&A: Perihelion
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Today we answer questions about Comet ISON and perihelion. What do you need to know about ISON? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and we'll try to find the answers.

So, everyone seems pretty excited.

This is true.

What’s the deal?

Comet ISON is about to shimmy up to the Sun and see if it wants to be friends.

Does it?

No. The Sun is uncaring and emotionally closed off. Also, it is a giant non-sentient ball of burning hydrogen and helium. All its relationships end in tears and/or total annihilation.

Never learned to love. Credit: SDO

Well, that sounds bad.

Yes. It’s going to be terrible. Pass the popcorn.

What’s this talk I hear of ISON reaching “perihelion”?

OK, if you want to be all official and technical, perihelion is when ISON reaches the point in its orbit that’s closest to the Sun. After a journey of millions of years from the Oort Cloud at the outer edge of the solar system, ISON will finally come within 0.012 astronomical units (AU) of the Sun – closer than Mercury – on Nov. 28.

ISON begins ...

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