Comet Coming In 2013 Brighter Than Full Moon: ISON Could Be The ‘Comet Of The Century’

By Amir Khan on December 31, 2012 10:25 AM EST

Comet
A 2013 comet could be brighter than the moon and be visible for months (Photo: Creative Commons)

A comet coming in 2013 could be brighter than a full moon, and astronomers are dubbing it the "comet of the century." The comet coming in 2013, known as ISON, will pass by Earth late next year and create a spectacular show that could last for months, according to TIME.

The comet coming in 2013, which is miles wide, will get increasingly brighter as it approaches Earth. As it passes by the sun, the ice in its body will vaporize, giving it a long tail, and make it visible to the naked eye from October 2013 through January, according to the Inquisitr.

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"If Comet ISON can survive perihelion passage ... then we are almost surely in for a striking display in the morning sky as Comet ISON recedes from the Sun next December," veteran observer John Bortle said this month on the Comets Mailing List. "Its immense tail, partly the result of our extremely favorable viewing circumstances in this case and just as with the Great Comet of 1680, could well result in a tail of amazing length and surface brightness, even if tipped by only tiny, relatively insignificant head."

However, there is still a chance that the comet coming in 2013 breaks up as it nears the sun, rendering it nearly invisible. But scientists don't think that is likely.

The path ISON, the comet coming in 2013, is taking makes researchers think it comes from the same origins as the Great Comet of 1680, which was bright enough to be seen without a telescope or binoculars. 

"Celestial visitors like Comet ISON hail from the Oort Cloud, a cluster of frozen rocks and ices that circle the sun about 50 000 times farther away than Earth's orbit," TIME reported. "Every so often, one will be gravitationally bumped out from the cloud and begin a long solo orbit around the sun."

While researchers and scientists are excited at the prospects of the comet coming in 2013, they are trying to temper expectations as well.

"Comets are like cats," comet hunter David Levy, who has found 22 comets himself, told TIME. "They have tails, and they do precisely what they want." 

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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