Comet ISON Makes Closest Pass to Sun

  • Nov 28, 2013 11:37am GMT

Update - November 29 @ 6:45am GMT

Scientists now believe Comet ISONs death reports may have been premature. Details emerging here.

Update - November 28 @ 8:15pm GMT

NASA is reporting on Twitter that Comet ISON may have broken up and not made the slingshot around the Sun intact.

Original Report

NASA & European Space Agency (ESA) scientists and astronomers are hopeful that Comet ISON will survive its flyby of the Sun on Thursday, November 27th. The comet makes its slingshot pass around the Sun a mere 730,000 miles above the surface - and if it makes it - it should make for an exciting show back on Earth as the comet makes its closest path to the planet on December 26.

Since the comet is so close to the sun, the glare has prevented ground based instruments from tracking this final phase. NASA and ESA have resorted to space-based systems to track ISON's approach to the sun - including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).

Even if the comet is unable to survive the pass around the Sun, scientists and astronomers will gain valuable information as to the composition and inner workings of the comet through the remaining debris.

Comet ISON was discovered by two Russian astronomers, Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, in September 2012 when it was 585 million miles away from Earth.

Photos courtesy NASA/ESA/SOHO