ISON may prove to be the brightest comet anybody’s ever seen

Halley's Comet
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Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) appears as a faint blob in this image taken at the Remote Astronomical Society Observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico.Credit: E. Guido, G. Sostero, and N. Howes

About a year from now, Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) probably will become the brightest comet anyone alive has ever seen. How bright it could get is currently the subject of vigorous discussion among planetary scientists and everyday comet-watchers.

Two astronomers, Vitali Nevski from Vitebsk, Belarus, and Artyom Novichonok from Kondopoga, Russia, discovered the comet on images they obtained September 21.

By late summer 2013, observers at dark locations should be able to spot the comet through small telescopes or possibly even binoculars. And sometime in late October or early November, C/2012 S1 should cross the naked-eye visibility threshold. From there, it may reach — or even exceed — the brightness of the Full Moon.

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Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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