Thu, 17 Jan 2013 22:34 CST
Later this year, Comet ISON could become bright enough to see in broad daylight when it passes through the atmosphere of the sun. At the moment, however, it is a cold and lonely speck barely visible through backyard telescopes. Two nights ago, Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK, photographed the potentially-great comet moving through space near the orbit of Jupiter:
"I created this animation
using images taken through a 4-inch refractor, starting at 23h on the 15th of January and ending at 01h on the 16th," says Lawrence. "The comet is clearly visible moving among the stars of Gemini, in an area just to the south of Castor."
Comet ISON looks so puny now because it is more than 600 million km away. In late 2013, however, it will be much closer. A key date is Nov. 28th when Comet ISON flies through the solar corona only 1.2 million km from the surface of the sun. If the comet survives the encounter--a big IF--it could emerge glowing as brightly as the Moon with a sensational tail sure to create a worldwide sensation. Stay tuned!