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Life, Unbounded

Summer Astrobiology Roundup #2: Possible ‘Comet Of The Century’ Starts Warming Up

Enhanced Hubble Telescope image of ISON from April 2013, showing a dusty tail and some evidence of volatile sublimation around the nucleus (NASA, ESA)

Back in February these pages discussed a newly discovered long-period comet, ISON (otherwise known as C/2012 s1), that is falling sunwards for what is probably its first passage through the inner solar system later this year – on a beautiful near parabolic orbit. At its closest point it will pass a mere 700,000 miles from [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Will This Be The Comet Of The Century?

Great Comet of 1680 (Painting by: Lieve Verschuier)

NASA’s Deep Impact probe has captured images of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), as it moves past the orbital distance of Jupiter on what may be its first trip inwards to the Sun, and possibly a spectacular show. Comets are notoriously fickle beasts. Chunks of primordial rock, dust, and volatile ices that formed some 4.5 billion [...]

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Naked-Eye Comet Pan-STARRS Climbing into Northern Skies

Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4)

This year is shaping up to be a great one for amateur sky-watchers. Toward the end of 2013, astronomers expect the recently discovered Comet ISON (officially designated C/2012 S1) to shine mightily as it approaches the sun—possibly glowing as bright as the full moon. (Comets are unpredictable beasts, though, and often fail to meet the [...]

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