November 27, 2013 | 1
If you live in the U.S., chances are good you’ll be munching on turkey tomorrow in celebration of Thanksgiving. But millions of miles above your head, Comet ISON will make its closest pass to the sun. It’s still a big question mark what will happen next: ISON could be torn apart by the sun’s gravity. Or, it could escape with nothing more than a sunburn and begin the return journey to its celestial birthplace in the Oort Cloud. If ISON does cheat death, the best earth-bound viewing will likely be in the next several weeks, once the comet has completed its solar flyby. Sophie Bushwick has all of the other important bits about ISON in our latest episode of The Countdown.
UPDATE 7/28: According to NASA, ISON did not survive its voyage around the sun, disappearing from the view of the Solar Dynamics Observatory before making its closest approach. This is the sixth thing you should know about Comet ISON.
UPDATE 7/29: New images from the European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory suggest that some portion of ISON may have survived. Stay tuned.
More to explore:
Comet from the Oort Cloud Careens toward the Sun (Scientific American)
The Comet ISON Toolkit (NASA)
Host/writer: Sophie Bushwick
Story advisors: Clara Moskowitz & Michael Moyer
Editor: Joss Fong
Producer: Eric R. Olson
Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, FutureX