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New comet could appear brighter than moon in 2013


ISON has taken millions of years to reach the solar system (Courtesy of NASA)
ISON has taken millions of years to reach the solar system (Courtesy of NASA)

Kevan Karanjia, Staff Writer

December 28, 2012 — A newly discovered comet has astronomers excited as it could appear brighter than the moon when it passes Earth in 2013.

If comet ISON survives its journey near the sun, it could take millions of years before it passes back through the inner solar system (Courtesy of NASA)
If comet ISON survives its journey near the sun, it could take millions of years before it passes back through the inner solar system (Courtesy of NASA)

The comet known as ISON, is being heralded as a once in a generation discovery  with some scientists believing it might appear 15 times brighter than the moon. 

ISON should be visible to the naked eye in daylight next year, putting on stunning views for the Northern Hemisphere in November and December. 

The comet is currently just beyond Jupiter but will start to shine as it approaches Mars. 

Once it nears the red planet, its surface will react to the changing temperatures, leading to huge plumes of gas being expelled and giving it a streak appearance.

Scientists are calling ISON the "Christmas Day Comet," as it will be most visible in November and December
Scientists are calling ISON the "Christmas Day Comet," as it will be most visible in November and December

ISON was only discovered in September this year by astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok. 

Using the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) telescope in Russia, the two astronomers accidently noticed the object while analyzing the Gemini and Cancer constellations. 

The comet is being called a "sun-grazer" because it will orbit so close to the sun. 

Most Comets are believed to originate from a cloud of debris more than a light year away, known as the Oort Cloud. 

They are often referred to as "dirty snowballs" because they are composed of loose collections of ice, dust, and small rock left over from the formation of stars and planets billions of years ago.

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