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Jason DavisOctober 8, 2013

An early look at Comet ISON

Comet ISON, the much-anticipated "Comet of the Century," has been taking a beating lately. When the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE team snapped photos of the icy visitor last week, the results were a bit disappointing. Many astronomers are beginning to warn that the hype surrounding ISON may be a bit overblown. As comet hunter David Levy once said, "Comets are like cats; they have tails, and they do precisely what they want."

But there's still a fair chance ISON may put on a good show. The comet is visible through ground-based telescopes, and is continuing to brighten as it plunges toward its late November encounter with the Sun. Early this morning, astrophotographer Adam Block pointed the University of Arizona's 32-inch Schulman Telescope at ISON, and got a pretty spectacular result. He writes:

"I am certain more images of this will be coming out shortly as it increases in brightness during its dive towards the Sun. Here is hoping it survives that rendezvous and emerges as something spectacular on the other side!"

Stay tuned!

Comet ISON comes into view

Adam Block / Mount Lemmon SkyCenter / University of Arizona

Comet ISON comes into view
Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) streaks across the sky in the morning hours of Oct. 8, 2013. The image was captured by the 32-inch Schulman Telescope on Mt. Lemmon, near Tucson, Ariz.

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Jason Davis

Editorial Director for The Planetary Society
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