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Comet ISON: what we know so far and what can we expect going forward

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) has gained considerable notoriety due to predictions of its becoming very bright in late November 2013 when it passes less than 2 solar radii from the Sun’s photosphere. Comet ISON is the only known “sungrazing” comet that is also reaching the inner solar system from the Oort Cloud for the first time. Thus, it presents an unique opportunity to study a comet from the icy recesses of the outer solar system to the extreme heat near the Sun and, if it survives, back out again. An extensive observing campaign to study Comet ISON is underway that includes multi-wavelength observations from traditional ground- and space-based telescopes, solar observatories, and a number of NASA assets throughout the inner solar system. In this talk I will discuss the current state of knowledge about Comet ISON and use the behaviors of past sungrazing comets to predict what will likely happen as Comet ISON reaches perihelion.

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