The video below shows Comet ISON’s complete perihelion passage, its total sweep closest to the sun on November 28, 2013. Perihelion was exciting, but the close pass near the sun took its toll on Comet ISON. At a meeting of astronomers earlier this month, NASA Goddard’s Karl Battams joked:
We see the comet going in, and the object formerly known as ISON emerging from the other side.
NASA astronomers do now confirm that ISON is no longer a comet. The comet is now thought to be a traveling field of debris. The Hubble Space Telescope is scheduled to try to capture an image of the former Comet ISON on December 19.
Plus, according to Battams’ Twitter feed, @Sungrazer Comets, there are two bright Oort Cloud comets to look forward to in 2014: C/2012 K1 (LINEAR) and C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring). We are still due for that Comet of the Century, after all!
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.