Comet ISON On Track For Thanksgiving Roasting, Possible Pre-Dawn Views In Early December
A comet that’s caused a lot of excitement is racing toward a close encounter with the Sun on Thanksgiving Day, according to the editors of StarDate magazine. Comet ISON will pass about 700,000 miles above the Sun before whipping around and heading back toward deep space — if it survives. If it does, the comet could easily be visible to the unaided eye for a few weeks after the encounter.
An automated asteroid-hunting telescope, part of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) in Russia, discovered Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) on September 21, 2012. Some comet-watchers quickly suggested that it could become as bright as a full Moon late this year. Continued observations, however, show that it’s not brightening as much as those optimistic projections indicated.
However, the comet appears to be holding together as it approaches the Sun, suggesting that it could survive the solar encounter, probably its first.
The comet will get brighter as it approaches the Sun, but more difficult to see through the Sun’s glare. It will shine at its brightest as it passes the Sun, although it will be too close to the Sun to view safely.