Comets are amazing things to behold. A ball of dust and ice a few miles across sounds quite unspectacular. But couple that with the effects of the Sun’s radiation, and you have a dynamite combination.
As a comet’s ice sublimates, its tail might extend for a hundred million miles, and the best comets can even occasionally be seen in daylight hours.
But comets can also come and go with very little fanfare, and science and astronomy have proven them to be quite unpredictable.
What will be the case with the upcoming comet ISON? Spotted a year ago, this comet should become visible to the naked eye in early November, as it travels through the constellation Virgo, and past the bright star Spica.
We don’t know yet if it will make it around the sun without breaking apart… After all, the effects of solar radiation are powerful and devastating.
This could be either good or bad for comet-watchers and amateurs. Occasionally, if a comet begins breaking apart as it reaches closest approach to the sun, it will expose new ice, even increasing the show from Earth.
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