Planets and Moons  Universe  ID: 11196

Comet ISON Is Coming

Comet ISON could put on quite a show later this year. Come November this frozen body traveling from the outer reaches of the solar system will pass within 1.1 million miles of the sun's fiery surface. What happens next will either be a magnificent spectacle or a grand disappointment. If the comet survives its trip around the sun, dust and volatile gases liberated from its icy interior will intensify the glow of its bright halo and long tail—offering stargazers a visual feast. Alternatively, the sun's immense gravity could disintegrate the comet just as it would become most visible from Earth. Scientists think this is the comet's first journey through the inner solar system, so there's a good chance it could be loaded with material ready to be lit up by the sun's energy. Expectations are high that the comet could even be seen in daylight, possibly shining as bright as the moon. Watch the video to learn more.

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Story Credits

Tony Phillips (Wyle Information Systems)

Lead Writer:
Alex Kasprak (USRA)

Please give credit for this item to:
Science@NASA and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Cover and false-color image courtesy of E. Guido, G. Sostero, N. Howes/ Remanzacco Observatory
Comet image courtesy of Rolando Ligustri

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