Basic Astronomy

Comet ISON will go very close to Sun on thanks giving day


ISON (C/2012 S1) as captured by Hubble
Space Telescope on 10-11 April 2013.

C/2012 S1 (which is popularly known as comet ISON) will come to closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) on 28 November 2013 (around 18:35 GMT) at a distance of 0.0124 AU (1,860,000 km; 1,150,000 mi) from the center point of the Sun. If we consider the solar radius of 695,500 km (432,200 mi), comet ISON will come approximately 1,165,000 km (724,000 mi) above the Sun's surface at its closest approach.

Scientists are still not sure whether ISON will be able to comeback in one piece from the Sun's closest approach defeating huge radiation and gravitational attraction of Sun. At its closet approach to Sun, the temperature of the surface of ISON will reach approximately 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme heat will cause much of the ice, dust and rock on ISON's surface to vaporize which will produce a fairly bright tail that would be visible in the early morning sky on 29th November and afterwards.

C/2012 S1 passed about 0.07248 AU (10,843,000 km; 6,737,000 mi) from Mars on 1 October 2013, and it will pass about 0.4292 AU (64,210,000 km; 39,900,000 mi) from Earth on 26 December 2013.

Solar Dynamics Observatory of NASA will post near real time images of ISON when it grazes by the sun around 12:45 p.m. EST on Thanksgiving day.

Comet ISON comes from Oort cloud which is a loose nebulous sphere containing billions of icy, rocky objects located on the very edge of the solar system. The comet was there for the last 4.6 billion years.

(Last updated: 26th November 2013)

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