Thursday, November 28, 2013

Comet ISON Comes to Perihelion Today, Watch it Happen Live!

Comet ISON is coming to perihelion later today! In non-astronomer lingo, this means that Comet ISON is going to make its closest approach to the Sun today, coming to with 732,000 miles (a close very shave in astronomical terms). It is this intense solar heat that will cause the comet to melt at its fastest rate. Why does this matter? Simple: all of the solar light reflected off the water vapor pouring off the comet will give ISON the familiar, tailed comet look.

The best part: you can watch everything happen live (almost) online!

With Comet ISON being lost to visual observers, the only way to see it now is by way of Sun-studying orbital observatories. Mission control for one of these observatories, SDO, will be hosting a Google+ hangout from 1pm to 3:30pm EDT. Go here for a link to the action.

See also: the 10 brightest comets of all time

In the end, though, the only way we'll be able to know what Comet ISON will do is to wait and watch. Hopefully, it will survive its close encounter intact and become a show for the history books when it reappears on the other side of the Sun.

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