Comet Ison To Light Up Night Sky In 2013, Could Outshine Moon
Ison, a newly discovered comet, will pass close to the Sun between October and December next year and is said to be bright enough to outshine the Moon.
Comet Ison is recently announced by NASA's Near Earth Object Program. According to NASA, next fall will see the frozen object fly very close to Sun. A comet of Ison's size is expected to produce a visible trail of ice that will dazzle in the night sky under right circumstances, Reuters has reported.
The comet is expected to reach closest to the Sun Nov. 28 and will be roughly 1.2 million miles from center of the Sun, according to the astronomers. The projected path of the comet is what excites all the astronomers. It is similar to a 1680 comet that could reportedly be seen even during the light of day, reports Reuters.
But all of this excitement only depends on Ison's survival. Since the comet will be very close to the Sun, it might be destroyed by the Sun's intense heat. On the other hand, it could stay far away from the Sun but will not produce a large enough trail of ice particles. If this happens, the comet will not be visible to the naked eyes.
Two Russian astronomers were the first ones to notice the comet using a midsize telescope. Artyom Novichonok, one of the comet's co-discoverers, wrote in an email list hosted by Yahoo, "The object was slow and had a unique movement. But we could not be certain that it was a comet because the scale of our images is quite small and the object was very compact."
Novichonok, along with co-discover Vitali Nevski, traveled to Uzbekistan's Maidanak Observatory to get a better look at it through a better telescope, reports Reuters.
British astronomer David Whitehouse told the Independent, "Comet Ison could be the brightest comet seen in many generations -- brighter even than the full moon." Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997 was the last comet to light up the night sky.
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