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Comet ISON Now Visible to Naked Eye in Nighttime November Sky

By Michael Mullins   |   Friday, 15 Nov 2013 09:06 AM

The Comet ISON, the primordial, frozen celestial body that potentially could be brighter than a full moon, is now visible to the naked eye say multiple observers.

Veteran comet observer John Bortle told Space.com that the Comet ISON had increased its brightness three-fold between Monday and Wednesday of this week.

One day later, Bortle reported that to his shock the Comet ISON's brightness had again increased two-fold within a 24 hour period, thereby making it bright enough to be viewed by the human eye.

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"I couldn't figure out what the funny-looking, blotted, star that came into view was," Bortle told Space.com. "[Was my] seeing that bad? But, no, the 'blotted star' was, in fact, at the comet's position!"


"ISON has dramatically brightened over the past few days," Carl Hergenrother, acting co-coordinator of the comet section of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, confirmed to Space.com. "My own observations from this morning. . . [shows] a nice 'lollipop' comet with a very condensed blue-green head and a long narrow tail. . . The comet may continue to brighten as the outburst is still in its early stages."

On Nov. 28, the Comet ISON will be most visible as it passes us by approximately 724,000 miles above the solar surface, having a comet head of approximately 3,100 miles and a dusty tail extends more than 57,000 miles, according to NASA.

The comet will eventually graze the surface of the sun at just 1.2 million miles from the center of the star.

Scientists believe the comet hails from the Oort Cloud, a cluster of icy rocks that circle the sun about 50,000 times farther away than Earth's orbit. Calculations show Comet ISON is making its first — and possibly last — voyage into the inner solar system.

Distinguishable from asteroids by their tail, comets, which are roughly the size of a small town, are primordial bodies comprised of the same fundamental building blocks that were responsible for the formation of planets billions of years ago.

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