Warning for Those Watching Comet ISON on Thanksgiving
Comet ISON is in the homestretch of its big tour around the sun, meeting the mass of incandescent gas on Thanksgiving Day.
The comet will be coming mighty close to our largest star, expected to come within 730,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers). Some scientists and astronomers wonder if the comet will even survive rubbing elbows with the sun. For this reason, newbie astronomers and stargazers should take their eyes off the sun and watch for the comet online instead.
The comet has had a 25-fold increase in brightness between November 13 and 21, with the brightness more than doubling just between the 19th and 21st. With all this recent activity, astronomers are getting a good feeling that Comet ISON could be one of the brightest in the last half century. But it all depends on what happens after the comet flies past the sun on Thanksgiving Day. If the close encounter causes the comet to fracture into pieces, it could result in a lot of dust, which means it would burn brighter and unfurl a very bright tail.
Comet ISON will appear closest to the sun at 1:38 p.m. EST (1838 GMT) on November 28.
The Mother Nature Network shares this warning: “We strongly warn all readers that only experienced observers should attempt observation of Comet ISON as it whips around the sun. Viewing the comet itself poses no danger, but potential danger lies in staring directly at the sun whose infrared rays can burn the retina of the eye without causing any pain.”
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
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