It’s looking like comet ISON, as it hurtles past Jupiter and Saturn through our solar system on its trip to and then around the sun, may be pretty memorable later this year.
ISON is named after the team that discovered it in September 2012, the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) near Kislovodsk, Russia.
This is a first-time trip for the mountain-sized comet to pass the sun. It’s been on a 200,000 year journey from the Oort Cloud on the fringe of our solar system.
I personally find it amazing that the gravity of the sun can reach out that far and pull in a single object, with millions of others unchanged, it really is quite astounding.
Because it has never passed before, scientists at NASA have not known what to expect of it.
It has now showed signs of life. Carbon dioxide and other gasses, liquids, and dust may be erupting on its surface as it heats up. This has made a tail 186,000 miles long already. These early signs say it may be extremely large and highly visible when it hits its peak period.
No one knows for sure how visible it will be yet, but it will get bigger and brighter from late October until it sling shots around the sun, expected on Thanksgiving – Thursday November 28, 2013 by which time it is expected to possibly shine brighter than the moon.
The return trip back away from the sun, when it’s icy contents are at their most heated and excited state, promises the best views. Unfortunately, no one is sure whether the comet will survive its trip past the sun intact.
Intense heat, solar flares, radiation, gravity and speeds expected to be ramped up to 238 miles per second (850,000 mph!) are all unknown factors as to whether the comet will survive for a return trip away from the sun.
We’ll just have to see… Ill check back with more info when I hear.