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Newly Spotted Comet May Shine Among Brightest In History

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the until-bruce-willis-destroys-it dept.

Space 100

Reader intellitech points to an article at National Geographic, from which he excerpts: "If astronomers' early predictions hold true, the holidays next year may hold a glowing gift for stargazers—a superbright comet, just discovered streaking near Saturn. Even with powerful telescopes, comet 2012 S1 (ISON) is now just a faint glow in the constellation Cancer. But the ball of ice and rocks might become visible to the naked eye for a few months in late 2013 and early 2014—perhaps outshining the moon, astronomers say. The comet is already remarkably bright, given how far it is from the sun, astronomer Raminder Singh Samra said. What's more, 2012 S1 seems to be following the path of the Great Comet of 1680, considered one of the most spectacular ever seen from Earth."

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SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT ON MY LOVE !! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41496865)

Or however it goes !!

More Corona peeze (4, Funny)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41496869)

> asuperbright comet, just discovered streaking near Saturn

Sweet -- look at the tail on that streaker!

Re:More Corona peeze (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497049)

Nice! Normally I prefer a furry tail, but wow cosmic tail is mind blowing

Re:More Corona peeze (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41498459)

Uh, no. You're looking at Uranus

Re:More Corona peeze (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41501127)

Tail, hell!

When's it due? And how close is that to the end of the Mayan collander?

Need I say more?

Re:More Corona peeze (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41559945)

Tail, hell!

When's it due? And how close is that to the end of the Mayan collander?

Need I say more?

Did the Mayans even have colanders back then? :)

*cough* On a serious note: I believe the article says something about 2013 or 2014 — thus, it would most likely be after the Mayan calendar runs out.

Re:More Corona peeze (1)

epSos-de (2741969) | about 2 years ago | (#41508569)

Last time this happened, Jesus came down the sky and was instantly stalked down by the 3 kings who offered jewels to him. Honestly, this might be the same comet that the Bible is describing as the brightest star, 3 days before the birth of Jesus.

Whats more (4, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41496883)

"What's more, 2012 S1 seems to be following the path of the Great Comet of 1680, considered one of the most spectacular ever seen from Earth."

got a link? no?

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Great+comet+of+1680&l=1 [lmgtfy.com]

jeez, if your going to reference something in an article take 2 seconds to post a link

DAMN KIDS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497191)

Geroffff my lawn!

Re:Whats more (4, Informative)

yotto (590067) | about 2 years ago | (#41498547)

I love clicking on a link that purports to be informative, when I did nothing wrong myself, and be presented with a page that tells me to run javascript.

How about an actual link?

https://www.google.com/search?q=great+comit+of+1680 [google.com]
or even better
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Comet_of_1680 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Whats more (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#41498983)

Okay if we ever meet show me a printout of this posting and we will hit the nearest Starbucks for a coffee or something (must have proof you are the poster)

Re:Whats more (1)

real-modo (1460457) | about 2 years ago | (#41504335)

Meh, what's second prize?

Re:Whats more (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41501791)

its 2012, if you dont know what lmgtfy,com is I kindly suggest you leave that rock a little more

Re:Whats more (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 2 years ago | (#41499323)

Why would you need a link to tell you about the Great Comet of 1680? Do you not consider yourself to be an educated person?

Re:Whats more (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41501783)

its common to post your references in material

Re:Whats more (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 2 years ago | (#41505163)

Citations, please, for your assertion that it is common to detail your references.

I thought that it was common to not post references to things which are common knowledge. Of course, your idea of "common knowledge" may differ from mine. I look at the site's byline ("news for nerds") and expect to be typing to nerds with a reasonable degree of knowledge about the sciences.

Re:Whats more (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#41506433)

Sorry that I am not an expert in your field of interest, and sorry I am not a jack of all trades, master of none nerd, with entire encyclopedias memorized... and that you have nothing better to do with your life.

Re:Whats more (2)

ElizabethGreene (1185405) | about 2 years ago | (#41500639)

This is timely. I just finished reading Lucifer's Hammer, a book about a massive comet strike. Interesting book. I found it intriguing how much of the book was still applicable despite its age.

Re:Whats more (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41502237)

"still applicable despite its age."


FFS
Lucifer’s Hammer was written only 35 years ago !
Have you any idea how long comets have been striking all the planets of our universe :-)

Apocalypse (0)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | about 2 years ago | (#41496891)

Something about the Mayans and December 21st, etc.

-AI

Re:Apocalypse (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#41497605)

Something about the Mayans and December 21st, etc.

-AI

You mean, the Mayans miscalculated by one year?

FTFS: But the ball of ice and rocks might become visible to the naked eye for a few months in late 2013 and early 2014

Re:Apocalypse (2)

jesseck (942036) | about 2 years ago | (#41498045)

You mean, the Mayans miscalculated by one year?

FTFS: But the ball of ice and rocks might become visible to the naked eye for a few months in late 2013 and early 2014

That is the reason the article uses the word "might"... they are expecting the world to end this December, but in the unlikely chance the revered and more-advanced-than-us Mayans were wrong, we could see the comet.

Re:Apocalypse (1)

drkim (1559875) | about 2 years ago | (#41504433)

...You mean, the Mayans miscalculated by one year?

I doubt it. The Mayans are experts at predicting and avoiding disaster and extinction.

Just ask one.

I'll believe it when I see it (5, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#41496897)

I'm old enough to have heard this sort of speculation about Kohoutek as well.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41496971)

I'm old enough to have heard this sort of speculation about Kohoutek [wikipedia.org] as well.

That's fair enough, science hasn't changed since 1973. I believe that history will ultimately show that the decline of science started with the break-up of The Doors [wikipedia.org] , though others contend that it was the rise of The Butts Band [wikipedia.org] . Still others mark 1973 as the beginning of the end of civilisation itself [woolwicharsenal.co.uk] , implying that the impact of the break-up of The Doors created tear in the fabric of human social history that was not simply limited to the decline of scientific endeavour.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41499033)

Hey that's what Jack Van Impe has been saying all along, and now a comet will prove him right!

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497037)

I'm old enough to remember Comet Bennett, in the early winter of 1970. I walked to school every morning, keeping my eye fixed on it, much to the irritation of the drivers that I somewhat randomly shared the roads with.
    I had a 4.5" Newtonian back home; but telescopes are not the best means of looking at comets. A decent pair of 7x50 binoculars are much better.
    I'm looking forward to this one. I took some good pix of McNaught, just at sunset, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. This time I might do better.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (4, Interesting)

guttentag (313541) | about 2 years ago | (#41497097)

I'm just old enough to remember seeing Halley's Comet in '86 and telling my parents I'd be too old to remember the first sighting when it came back in 2061.

And I remember the next day at school when the teacher asked if everyone saw the comet, and one person proudly announced that he watched it on TV. That was the first time I said the word "dumbass" in public. I have a terrible feeling that the percentage of kids who tell the class they saw the comet on TV (or "YouTwitFace" -- the future conglomerate of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook) will be much higher the next time around.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497279)

YouTwitFace is now my official name for social networks. Thanks.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497445)

For years my mother has been calling them all FaceTube.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | about 2 years ago | (#41505701)

Sorry about replying to ACs but the IT crowd has already named them Friend face. [youtube.com]

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#41506757)

Which just proves that the IT crowd is as funny as a bunch of screenwriters who know nothing about networking technology can make a show about the geeks who love and maintain it.....

Both of the AC's names are better than "friend face" which has all of the edginess, humor, and social relevance of a bowl of oatmeal.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41497127)

So, what's the deal? Someone want to explain? My understanding of Kohoutek is limited to old "Snoopy" cartoons.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41497733)

Kohoutek was hyped to be very spectacular . . . folks were even wishfully speculating that it might have been the Three Wise Men Jesus Birthday Star.

But it fizzled out. The Snoopy comics were probably more interesting.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (2)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | about 2 years ago | (#41497915)

Kohoutek was supposed to be a brilliant comet once it emerged from behind the sun on the outward leg of the orbit. What came out was what in pyrotechnic terms was a damp squib.

One theory I heard posted about was that the comet's trajectory came too close to the sun and the heat actually burned the surface and fused it into a organic mess, like tar, and it was unable to vent as it should have. Another was that it broke up behind the sun.

As with all things in Yankee culture, the name became a brand name for duds and failure.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41567037)

It depended on where you were. I was in Thailand, and it was so bright there that it and the moon were all you could see in the western sky until they set. Perhaps it's because Thailand is so close to the equator?

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#41497185)

I remember them saying the same thing about Haley's comet too. I've got the original article out of either Time or OMNI on it saying that it'll be so bright it'll outshine the moon as well. I remember seeing it as a kid, it looked like a slow moving satellite.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497345)

You mean Bill Haley [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 2 years ago | (#41499359)

Which apparition were you referring to? The 1982 one or the 1909 one? Both are just about credible.

Kohoutek (5, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | about 2 years ago | (#41496905)

I am also old enough to remember the speculation about Kohoutek.

It is notoriously hard to predict the brightness of "new" comets, as you know nothing about their history.

Re:Kohoutek (3, Funny)

rs79 (71822) | about 2 years ago | (#41497117)

I'm old enough to remember suggesting to Halley "hey, try looking over there."

Cimrman, (1)

lahvak (69490) | about 2 years ago | (#41499089)

is that you? I would expect you having considerably lower id!

Re:Kohoutek (2)

Olix (812847) | about 2 years ago | (#41497271)

That's interesting: Do you think that 'It is notoriously hard to predict the brightness of "new" comets' because of Kokoutek?

Re:Kohoutek (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 2 years ago | (#41499389)

No. The "it's notoriously hard to predict the brightness of new comets" meme predates Kohoutek by some few decades.

Re:Kohoutek (3, Insightful)

enilnomi (797821) | about 2 years ago | (#41499617)

"Yeah. Look," Harvey said, "can you name one newsman who lost his reputation because of Kahoutek?" He nodded at the puzzled look that got. "Right. None. No chance. The public blamed the astronomers for blowing it all out of proportion. Nobody blamed the news people."

"Why should they? You were quoting the astronomers."

"Half the time," Harvey agreed. "But we quoted the ones who said exciting things. Two interviews. One man says Kahoutek is going to be the Big Christmas Comet. Another says, well, it's going to be a comet, but you might not see it without field glasses. Guess which tape gets shown on the six o'clock news?"

--Lucifer's Hammer; Niven & Pournelle, 1977

Re:Kohoutek (1)

minvaren (854254) | about 2 years ago | (#41499837)

Mod parent up, Hot Fudge Sundae (that falls on a Tuesdae).

Obligatory 'End of the World' thread here (4, Funny)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 2 years ago | (#41496943)

For starters, 2013 minus 2000 equals 13.

Re:Obligatory 'End of the World' thread here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497623)

so very true but did you know that 2000 to 2013 is 14 years?

Re:Obligatory 'End of the World' thread here (2)

lxs (131946) | about 2 years ago | (#41498375)

It's Hale-Bopp all over again.
(Mental note: Buy a pair of purple Nikes for everyone in the commune.)

Queue up ACDC - Who Made Who (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41496953)

nt.

Re:Queue up ACDC - Who Made Who (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497125)

Why? Is this some religious thing?

yes, in late 2013/ early 2014 (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41497023)

you will see bright flashes in the sky just as predicted

iran and israel bombing each other

Re:yes, in late 2013/ early 2014 (1)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 2 years ago | (#41497535)

Why do I get the impression you're almost experiencing this [youtube.com] ?

Wonder when (5, Insightful)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#41497065)

All the nutcases will be busting out the Kool-aid

Re:Wonder when (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41497923)

Let's hope so.

Re:Wonder when (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41498731)

Better ask the retail industry. They surely have a lot of market research about the right amplitudes of Kool-aid stocking over many decades.

Know why there's no Jonestown jokes? (1)

bd580slashdot (1948328) | about 2 years ago | (#41503889)

The punch lines are too long!

Re:Know why there's no Jonestown jokes? (1)

kiriath (2670145) | about 2 years ago | (#41504243)

Ba dun tss!

payday loans england (-1)

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Re:payday loans england (0)

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Re:payday loans england (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#41506793)

What's weird is that payday loans themselves are scams....

Re:payday loans england (1)

popo (107611) | about 2 years ago | (#41502255)

I think you're in the wrong neighborhood, son.

Spamming Slashdot is a good way to get your site DOS'ed.

payay loans england (-1)

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Comet? Nope, Comet Empire (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#41497171)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Blazers [wikipedia.org]

But seriously, this is going to be cool.

Re:Comet? Nope, Comet Empire (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 2 years ago | (#41499403)

Yes, it'll be pretty cool. Not far above absolute zero, in fact.

Religious implications (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497231)

Pardon my ignorance, but given the dates this could have passed around 10 AD. Is there any conjecture towards this being the star of Bethlehem?

Re:Religious implications (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497241)

Never mind. [areavoices.com]
"Because the orbits of the two comets are similar doesn’t necessarily mean that the 1680 comet is the same as C/2012 S1 (ISON). It’s more likely a fragment of that comet. The orbital period of the 1680 comet is somewhere around 9,000-10,000 years, so the last time it was near Earth was long before the birth of Christ."

Re:Religious implications (4, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#41497745)

10 AD is outside the range of dates in which the birth of Jesus could have happened. At that time, Herod was already dead for over a decade.

If you are interested in a good overview on the theories about the star of Bethlehem, I've found this page [astronomynotes.com] quite informative.

Re:Religious implications (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about 2 years ago | (#41499085)

It's much easier to believe that the mythology was cribbed from other sources or made up out of whole cloth.

That goes for the rest of the miraculous happenings too. It's almost as if someone wanted to hijack the moral teachings and substitute idol-worship. Even today the latter seems far more popular than the former.

Re:Religious implications (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#41499653)

At the time the texts in question had been written, the past they are speaking about wasn't yet too far away, so they had to get the historical facts right, or instead of convincing people, they would have been laughed away like "Oh, what? Tiberius started a census, but Herod tried to kill your Jesus afterwards? Herod was long dead when Tiberius got co-emperor! Why should I believe the rest of your story if you start with such a nonsense?" The best way to make sure you get no errors which someone might spot is to set a fixed date for all the invented events (but be sure to never mention it, or else any little error you made anyway might be found out and used to discredit your story). So even if the birth of Jesus was just made up, most likely there was a certain birth date in the mind. And if there were notable events on the sky which could well be interpreted in a convenient way, and which happened in a convenient period, the evangelists could well have used those to add more credibility to their story (remember, back then astrology was more or less universally accepted). And if they did so, it makes sense to ask about which event they might have had in mind.

So no matter whether or not you believe Jesus did exist, it does make sense to ask which celestial events might have been interpreted as the star of Bethlehem.

Re:Religious implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41500091)

That isn't the slightest bit of true. The only reasonable records we have is from the census of 14 AD by the Romans.

It will be late, won't it ? (1)

AncalagonTotof (1025748) | about 2 years ago | (#41497253)

I think we must adapt our calendars to make it arrive on 2012/12/21, don't you think ?

Re:It will be late, won't it ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497483)

Well,,,,,,,,,,,, it was noticed in 2012.

Some things are open for interpretation.

Re:It will be late, won't it ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41498697)

Humans are always late and god made us in his own image...

In 1680 (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41497341)

there was no light pollution. You could actually see the Milky Way and even dim comets would stand out in the night sky.

Now you can barely spot the full moon anywhere outside North Korea.

Re:In 1680 (2)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#41497601)

Or, you know, the 99.9% of the world that's nowhere near major cities. Greetings from the Scottish Highlands, the night sky is really quite stunning here.

Re:In 1680 (2)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 2 years ago | (#41497631)

I can see the milky way (if not very clearly), living in a town of 15K only 30 miles from a big city. You really don't have to be in the middle of nowhere for a decent sky, just get out of the big city.

Re:In 1680 (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 2 years ago | (#41499457)

You really don't have to be in the middle of nowhere for a decent sky, just get out of the big city.

My rule of thumb : if you've got a 3G mobile phone signal, you're too close to either a city or a major road.

Re:In 1680 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41505751)

You must be a GSM user. About the only place that can be true for Verizon is out in the west in the wilderness and not above timberline (excepting Nevada and a few other areas). A 4 day hike through the Grand Tetons is the first time I've had basically no signal that long for the past 5 years or so (excepting a day hike in the Grand Canyon area), but I've had great night sky many times. It's actually pretty amazing how well covered in Verizon 3G that the USA is.

Re:In 1680 (2)

AlecC (512609) | about 2 years ago | (#41497649)

I saw Comet Hale Bopp quite clearly from beside a pool in a Las Vegas hotel, surely one of the most light polluted places in the world. I saw it much more clearly from my home in the English countryside, but a good comet can get through a lot of pollution.

Re:In 1680 (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#41497773)

Now you can barely spot the full moon anywhere outside North Korea.

I can spot the full moon quite fine. Indeed, even when the moon is almost gone, I can see it quite well. And I'm living in a place with no lack of light pollution. I guess you know the sky only as seen from inside a big city, where there's not only lots of light pollution, but also enough of regular pollution which both dims the light from the sky and increases the effect of the light pollution by scattering back much more light than relatively clean air would.

However you're right that light pollution makes it more or less impossible to spot dim comets.

It signals ... (2)

drrilll (2593537) | about 2 years ago | (#41497691)

the coming of dragons

Re:It signals ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41498033)

the coming of dragons

Dragons were already here. They are just non-avian dinosaurs. If the signal is as you say, let's hope what returns are not giant relatives of avian dinosaurs -- Like ducks...

That would be a truly terrifying coming. [youtube.com]

Re:It signals ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41498139)

Congratulations, that is one of the most terrifying things I've ever seen. I foolishly assumed a youtube link would be safe!

Quick! (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41497723)

just discovered streaking near Saturn.

Somebody hand it an overcoat...

Re:Quick! (1)

davmoo (63521) | about 2 years ago | (#41498061)

Look at the positive side...at least it isn't hanging around Uranus.

Re:Quick! (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41498165)

Agreed. Unlike some, I've never been one for having my hair pulled...

Re:Quick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41498673)

Look at the positive side...at least it isn't hanging around Uranus.

It's already squeezed past Uranus.

How can I see this? (1)

jehan60188 (2535020) | about 2 years ago | (#41498893)

Is there a site that lists viewing times/directions based on my location?
Should I look near saturn?

Re:How can I see this? (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41499047)

Try looking up.

At night.

Re:How can I see this? (1)

supercrisp (936036) | about 2 years ago | (#41499923)

Ah, got to love the snark. You think you're smart, but you're actually being obtuse. Happens to me ALL the time. I think jehanBUNCHOFNUMBERS wants to see the comet NOW, so s/he needs some orbital data or an ephemeris. Luckily amateur astronomers have access to The Google, and he'll find the comet despite your and my snarking.

Re:How can I see this? (2)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 2 years ago | (#41499585)

The descriptions so far are a bit vague to give precise directions. Because comets are shedding appreciable mass, which can have a rocket effect on the trajectory, and they're typically tumbling irregularly, and they're warming up (irregularly, under the influence of both previous effects) then this early in an apparition, it's not really worthwhile making close predictions of the comet's path through the solar system, and thus of it's track across the night sky.

The current magnitude (18.8) is several million times too dim for naked-eye observation. The comet is predicted to become binocular-visible in August 2013, and maybe naked-eye visible from late September or early October for a month or two. I would take an industrial-scale pinch of salt with those figures.

Not possessing a telescope, I'd look at getting an updated ephemeris (listing of it's path on the plane of the sky) in July next year.

Re:How can I see this? (2)

KenSeymour (81018) | about 2 years ago | (#41502443)

Check this site [skyandtelescope.com] every few months until late 2013. They are great for new and charts.

Surpassing moon brightness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41499625)

Don't you have to say the brightness of the moon at which phase? Or are we to understand that the comet will outshine a full moon? Not saying that wouldn't be the comet of the century, or millennium, just wondering.

Re:Surpassing moon brightness? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#41506843)

Always assume that if they say it outshines the moon, they're talking about a new moon. Also, when astronomers talk to newspeople about comets in relation to the moon, they are usually talking about the visible extent, rather than the brightness itself. It could be very dim and transparent, but if it subtends a greater solid angle than the moon - it rivals the moon in the night sky.

Would make a nice Astronomy Picture of the Day (1)

toudaimori (2505788) | about 2 years ago | (#41504669)

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/community/skyblog/observingblog/A-Dream-Comet-Heading-Our-Way-171521041.html [skyandtelescope.com]

An added bonus is that the comet passes very close to Mars in early October 2013 and could potentially be observed by the sensitive Mast Cameras on the rover Curiosity.

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