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Jul 18, 2013 9:44 AM by Stephen Bowers

An eventful year for Comet ISON

In this photo from NASA, Comet ISON is seen from Hubble Space Telescope in early May. 

Some say Comet ISON could be the "comet of the century" later this year, but it has a major obstacle to get through first: the sun.

While the comet is not expected to impact the sun directly, it is expected to pass just 730,000 miles from the sun's surface on Thanksgiving Day. A pass this close means the icy comet may not survive, but if it does it could put on a celestial show throughout December that will be visible from Earth.

Comet ISON was first discovered by astronomers in Russia in September 2012. It is expected to pass within 280 miles of the sun late this month and next month, at which point much of its ice will likely melt. NASA says some comets have not survived passes this close to the sun. 

By late August, the comet will be visible from Earth through telescopes. The closest path to Earth, if it survives its close Thanksgiving Day encounter with the sun, will be the day after Christmas, December 26th of this year, before what's left of the comet jets into the outer researchers of our solar system. 

NASA says the comet could be visible throughout December all night, almost every night. It is expected to pass less than 40 million miles from Earth at its nearest approach to us.


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