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New Comet ISON Could Make Skywatchers' Year in 2013

The comet was discovered by two amateur astronomers in September.

Forget the Hunter's Moon in 2013.

Local skywatchers might get to see a spectacular Hunter's Comet — the newly discovered comet ISON.

A NASA astronomer says ISON's fiery tail may be visible to those watching the night sky from October 2013 through January 2014.

And the comet may hove into view without the help of a telescope.

It all depends on whether the sun's heat vaporizes ices in the comet's body, scientists say in an article posted in the Huffington Post.

Comet ISON will fly within 1.2 million miles from the sun's center on Nov. 28, 2013, astronomer Donald Yeomans, head of NASA's Near Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif, told the San Jose Mercury News.

If the comet makes it through the sun's heat the ISON could outshine the moon.

Last September two amateur astronomers from Russia discovered the comet.

The Huffington Post says Comet ISON's path resembles that of a 1680 comet. And that comet's tail was reportedly visible during the daytime.

2013 is set to become a two-comet year.

Comet Pan-STARRS is expected to hurl by Earth in March.

David Seargent January 03, 2013 at 03:50 AM
Is ISON a fragment of the comet of 1680? Probably not. ISON’s orbit is slightly hyperbolic indicating that it is making its first (and, maybe, only) close passage of the Sun. The published orbit of the 1680 comet indicates a period of 8 – 10 thousand years, but it might also be hyperbolic. This comet seems to have brightened rather more slowly than average as is typical of first-time comets. (By the way, this should be remembered in any forecast of ISON’s performance later this year). It is not really surprising that comets approaching the centre of gravity of the Solar System should show convergence of orbits, but the similarity between the orbits of ISON and 1680 is certainly interesting. Nevertheless, it appears nothing more than an odd coincidence. Like the earlier comet, ISON’s most spectacular feature will likely be a very long tail emerging from a small and relatively inconspicuous head. The head of 1680 seems to have been almost lost at the end of the tail. About 10 days after perihelion, the star-like condensation was replaced by a misty ball of light and about the same time, a bright streak was seen emanating from the nucleus. This may have marked the disruption of the nucleus . In any case, about four weeks later the head was invisible with the naked eye, but the tail remained as a long streamer.

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