Comet ISON will pass 1.2 million miles from the center of the sun on November 28, 2013, according to NASA’s Near Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. When the object passes by Earth’s night sky, it could be brighter than the moon.
The comet will grow increasingly bright as it passes by the sun, and the ice in its body vaporizes, creating a brightly lit comet tail. The object will be glow so bright that it will not require telescopes or binoculars to view. The Comet will be visible from October 2013 through January 2014.
Scientists do warn that Comet ISON could break apart as it nears the sun or the effects of the sun could be dulled, creating a slightly less spectacular visual.
According to Times Live:
“Celestial visitors like Comet ISON hail from the Oort Cloud, a cluster of frozen rocks and ices that circle the sun about 50 000 times farther away than Earth’s orbit. Every so often, one will be gravitationally bumped out from the cloud and begin a long solo orbit around the sun.”
At this time Comet ISON’s path is similar to a comet that passed by Earth in 1680, that comet was so bright that it was reportedly visible during daylight hours.
Some astronomers examining the 1680 comet have been led to wonder if they are from the same parent cluster of frozen rock.
With Comet ISON likely to be the brightest comet we will witness for many generations scientists are hoping that the rock survives its approach towards Earth’s sun and ultimately puts on a four month show for observers.