NASA Releases First Hubble Images Of Comet ISON

By  //  April 24, 2013

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May Be Brightest Object In Night Sky This Fall

(VIDEO: BPEarthWatch)

BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – Remarkable new images of the Comet ISON taken earlier this month by the Hubble Space telescope have been released to the public by NASA.

This image of Comet ISON as it makes its approach throughn the Solar System was taken by the Hubble Sapce Telescope on April 10. (Image courtesy of NASA)
This image of Comet ISON as it makes its approach through the solar system was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on April 10. (Image courtesy of NASA)

The images of ISON as it travels through speace at a speed of about 47,000 mph were taken April 10 by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The photos reveal the comet is so bright it could actually outshine the moon as it approaches the sun at its peak point around Nov. 28  this year.

And astronomers say it will remain bright in the northern hemisphere on its return trip to the outer reaches of the solar system throughout the month of December and into the new year.

The nucleus of the comet itself is just four miles in diameter, but the dusty coma, or  head of the comet, is nearly 3,100 miles wide.

ISON’s dust trail is 57,000 miles long right now, but will increase in size as it approaches the sun and its frozen gases are emitted.

It is believed to be making its first trip to the sun, and so is hoped to still have most of its volatiles intact. Volatiles are the substances which heat up and blast off the comet’s nucleus to form the wispy comet tail which can stretch for millions of miles through space.

The comet is named after the International Scientific Optical Network, a group of observatories from 10 countries who have organized to detect, monitor and track objects in space.

The trip of ISON through the solar system is carefully monitored by the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

It was first discovered by Russian astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok last September.