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Comet ISON 2013 Dates, Time & Where to Watch: Fireball to Blaze Across Sky on Thanksgiving Day

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First Posted: Nov 20, 2013 02:07 PM EST
Comet ISON
(Photo : Wikipedia: TRAPPIST/E. Jehin/ESO)

Comet ISON is expected to travel near the sun on November 28, Thanksgiving Day, according to the Washington Post.

"The Comet of the Century"  is predicted to pass the sun from a distance of about 621,000 miles, quite a proximate encounter; but scientists are hoping that the comet will be able to withstand the heat, and will not be vaporized as it travels 234 miles per second near the star. The heat will be about 5,000 degrees, enough to shatter the icy body of the comet, even rock and metal. The gravity of the sun may also shatter the comet apart. However, recent estimates from scientists hold hope that Comet ISON may emerge undestroyed from its close brush with the sun.  

Discovery News reports that despite its extraordinary brightness, Comet ISON appears not to be too large as predicted by scientists. In May, it was found out that the nucleus of the comet appeared to be no more than three to four miles in diameter, as the image was picked up by the Hubble telescope.

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According to NASA, "Since the comet was so bright and so active, scientists had assumed the nucleus was larger. Hubble found the dusty coma, or head of the comet, to be around 3,100 miles across and the tail to be more than 57,000 miles long," reports Discovery News.

If Comet ISON survives its travel near the sun, it will be visible in the Earth's skies early December and every night in January. ISON belongs to the group of comets situated in the Oort Cloud, 'a reservoir of icy bodies beyond Neptune's orbit,' according to the Washington Post.

Comet ISON was first spotted September 2012 with the use of International Scientific Optical Network, or ISON, by Artyom Novichonok and Vitali Nevski. The amateur Russian astronomers were dazzled by the extraordinary brightness of the comet at the time. As the comet continues to travel, nearing the sun, its ice will progressively vaporize, creating a bright, dazzling glow in its wake.

 Scientists have started calling Comet ISON the 'Comet of the Century,' for this spectacular show, reports Space.com.

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