"Comet of the century" may be brighter than the moon

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) was photographed on April 10, when the comet was slightly closer than Jupiter's orbit at a distance of 386 million miles from the Sun (394 million miles from Earth). ESA, and the Hubble Comet ISON Imaging Science Team,NASA, J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute)

Astronomers are now bracing for what may be the "comet of the century."

The magnificent space formation is called the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON), and scientists say it will be historic because everyone will be able to see it. According to NASA, the comet will make its closet advance on the Sun on Nov. 28th, and will briefly be much brighter than a full moon. As of now the comet is making its decent towards the Sun at 47,000 miles per hour.

Currently, the only way to see this comet is through the Hubble telescope, and at this view it is 386 million miles from the Sun.

Behind the comet itself, which is a frozen nucleus, the telescope was able to catch the burnt off dust particles flying through the air. That trail of dust is caused by the warming of the comet by the Sun and flows in the direction opposite the massive heat source. From the Hubble photos researchers believe that the actual size of the comet is about three to four miles across.

The comet was discovered in September 2012 by the Russian-led International Scientific Optical Network using a 16-inch telescope.

  • Shoshana Davis

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