At least a million Earth-years ago, the icy chunk we know as Comet C/2012 S1 ISON began its journey sunward from the Oort Cloud surrounding our solar system. Comet ISON will reach its perihelion – closest point to the sun – on Thursday, November 28, 2013. One week beforehand, on November 21, Gerald Rhemann in Namibia in southwestern Africa captured this beautiful photo of ISON, now in the last leg of its long journey. Details of the photo are:
Date: 21.11.2013 UT 02h49m
Location: Farm Tivoli, Namibia/SW Africa
Telescope: ASA 12″ N f 3.8 Astrograph
Camera: FLI ML 8300
Mount: ASA DDM85
Exposure time: LRGB 3/2/2/2 min.
Thank you, Gerald!
ISON is considered a sun-diving comet. At its closest, it will skim very close to the sun, just 724,000 miles (1,165,000 km) above the sun’s surface.
If Comet ISON is able to sweep past the sun and head back toward the outer solar system again without breaking up, it may become visible to the eye alone in the predawn sky in early December.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded 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.