Comet of the century? ISON has 'potential' to be visible all day.
As sun-grazing comet ISON approaches the sun, it's getting progressively brighter – and might even flare into a dazzling object bright enough to be visible in broad daylight.
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The comet's dusty coma, or head of the comet, is currently about 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) across, or 1.2 times the width of Australia. A dust tail extends more than 57,000 miles (92,000 kilometers), far beyond Hubble's field of view.Skip to next paragraph
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A detailed analysis of the dust coma surrounding the nucleus reveals a strong jet blasting dust particles off the sun-facing side of the comet's nucleus. This jet, as projected on the sky, extends at least 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers).
A "promising" future
What does all of this mean regarding the comet's performance later this year?
"It looks promising, but that's all we can say for sure now," said Matthew Knight, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., and a member of the Swift and Comet ISON Observing Campaign teams. "Past comets have failed to live up to expectations once they reached the inner solar system, and only observations over the next few months will improve our knowledge of how ISON will perform."
We'll just have to wait and see how ISON evolves in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned to SPACE.com for future updates.
Editor's note: If you capture an amazing photo of Comet ISON or any other night sky sight that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New York Times and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, New York. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.
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