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Jason DavisJuly 5, 2013

Hubble captures time-lapse of comet ISON

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a series of images showing Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) continuing its plunge toward the sun. In the resulting time-lapse video, ISON travels 34,000 miles in 43 minutes. That’s almost three times the speed of spacecraft in low-Earth orbit. You can clearly see the comet changing position relative to the background stars.

This time-lapse sequence of images from the Hubble Space Telescope shows comet ISON as it appeared on May 8, 2013. At the time the images were taken, the comet was 403 million miles from the Earth, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The Hubble observations were made during a 43-minute span, and then compressed into a five-second sequence. The comet travels 34,000 miles in this video.

NASA / ESA / Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

ISON is predicted to be a naked-eye comet this fall, becoming visible in November. It is a sungrazing comet, meaning it will dive perilously close to the sun as it reaches perihelion. Hubble snapped the images on May 8 using Wide Field Camera 3. The comet is shown in visible light using false color.

Comet ISON from Hubble

NASA / ESA / Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Comet ISON from Hubble
Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) is imaged in visible light by the Hubble Space Telescope on May 8, 2013.

Read more: comets, Hubble Space Telescope

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Jason Davis

Journalist and Digital Editor for The Planetary Society
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