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Monday July 28, 2014

updated - July 28, 2014 Monday EDT

Comet Coming in 2013, Could be Brighter Than the Moon

Dec 31, 2012 01:45 AM EST
This image shows the newfound comet C/2012 (ISON) as seen by the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy. The image, taken by amateur astronomers Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero and Nick Howes, is a confirmation view of the comet, which was first discovered by Vitali Nevski (Vitebsk, Belarus) and Artyom Novichonok (Kondopoga, Russia). Image released Sept. 24, 2012.(Photo : Remanzacco Observatory/Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero & Nick Howes)

The comet coming in 2013 can possibly rival the "Great Comet of 1680," according to astronomers. ISON, as it's called, was discovered in September.

Back in the 1970's, Comet Kohoutek was billed as the "Comet of the Century," but it turned out to be so disappointing that it ended being inspiration for late night show jokes. But this new comet coming in 2013 will possibly outshine the moon.

According to Time, the comet is called ISON, named for the International Scientific Optical Network, of which discoverers Artyom Novichonok and Vitali Nevski members. It was first seen when it was nearly 600 million miles (965 million km) from the Sun, well beyond the orbit of Jupiter.

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That's unusually distant for a comet to be spotted: these interplanetary chunks of debris usually live in the frigid realms out beyond Neptune and are more or less invisible until solar heat begins boiling ice and dust from their surfaces, forming a light-reflecting halo (known technically as its coma), that makes them seem bigger than they really are, the report says.

Comet ISON is believed to be part of the Oort Cloud, an enormous patch of icy objects and other comets, that are about one light year from Earth.

Orbital calculations indicate that comet ISON will travel closest to the sun, less than 750,000 miles (1.2 million km) above the sun's surface, making it a true "sungrazer," on Nov. 28 which is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

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