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ISON Q&A: Sept. 23, 2013

23 Sep 2013, 13:43 UTC
ISON Q&A: Sept. 23, 2013
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Today we answer some of the Comet ISON questions you've posed on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. What do you need to know about ISON? Tell us and we'll try to find out.

Where and when can I see Comet ISON?

There it goes! Look! It’s right behind you! Driving the tan Kia! Never mind, you missed it. It was spectacular.

Shouldn't have been playing with your smartphone. Credit: Soerfm, Wikimedia Commons

So, we can’t tell you for sure yet. Despite everyone’s hopes, it’s entirely possible that Comet ISON will disintegrate when it approaches the Sun, or that it won’t be visible to the naked eye. For ISON to become a spectacle, it would have to survive its approach to the Sun and develop a long tail as it becomes exposed to the Sun’s heat. And there are a lot of factors that go into that, including the size and composition of the comet’s nucleus.

So your view of ISON, if it survives “perihelion,” or its approach to the Sun, will depend on how bright it is and where it is located in the sky. It will have to be far enough from the Sun to be ...

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