Comet Coming In 2013; ISON Brighter Than The Moon - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Comet Coming In 2013; ISON Brighter Than The Moon

Posted: Updated:

NEWS.CNET.COM - The moon could have some serious competition in 2013.

No, we're not finally building a real Death Star, no matter how much the American people demand one. I'm talking about a surprise visit from a recently discovered heavenly body known as the comet Ison. The chunk of ice and rock has likely broken free from the Oort cloud and is heading our way right now. If it survives the journey, astronomers say it could become even brighter than our lunar neighbor in the night sky as it makes a pass through our neighborhood next fall.

According to NASA, the wayward comet is currently hurtling towards the sun somewhere in the vicinity of Jupiter's orbit. By October, it should come very near Mars, possibly allowing NASA's rovers a view as it shakes its tail in their direction. From there, it appears it will continue toward the center of the solar system, passing within a single solar diameter of the sun's surface before heading back more or less the way it came.

Whatever survives the long journey will pass nearest the earth in December 2013. Astronomers say Comet ISON's path is similar to one that passed by earth in 1680 with a tail so bright that it could allegedly be seen in daylight.

"Comet Ison could draw millions out into the dark to witness what could be the brightest comet seen in many generations - brighter even than the full Moon," wrote astronomer David Whitehouse in the Independent.

Of course, Ison could also flame out early.

"Comet Elenin springs to mind as a recent example, but there are more famous examples of comets that got the astronomy community seriously worked up, only to fizzle," said Karl Battams of the NASA-supported Sungrazer Comet Project. "This is quite possibly a 'new' comet coming in from the Oort cloud, meaning this could be its first-ever encounter with the Sun. If so, with all those icy volatiles intact and never having been truly stressed (thermally and gravitationally), the comet could well disrupt and dissipate weeks or months before reaching the sun."

If comet Ison disappoints, 2013 may not be a total bust for comet fans. Comet Pan-STARRS is due to pass by and could be visible in March.

Good thing that Mayan apocalypse didn't pan out. Now the real show begins.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Barista-stand owner faces prostitution charge

    Barista-stand owner faces prostitution charge

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:10 AM EDT2014-09-01 14:10:27 GMT
    EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - Authorities say the owner of bikini coffee stands in Washington state banked more than $2 million in just three years because her baristas were also selling sex acts. Snohomish County prosecutors charged 52-year-old former nude dancer Carmela Panico with promoting prostitution and money laundering, alleging that she was the madam of drive-thru brothels throughout the county north of Seattle.>>
    EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - Authorities say the owner of bikini coffee stands in Washington state banked more than $2 million in just three years because her baristas were also selling sex acts. Snohomish County prosecutors charged 52-year-old former nude dancer Carmela Panico with promoting prostitution and money laundering, alleging that she was the madam of drive-thru brothels throughout the county north of Seattle.
    >>
  • Throwback Thursday! Look At 'Sunshine Shelly' Through The Years!

    Throwback Thursday! Look At 'Sunshine Shelly' Through The Years!

    Thursday, March 20 2014 1:04 PM EDT2014-03-20 17:04:11 GMT
    KHQ.COM - It's throwback Thursday! Here is a slideshow we would like to share of Shelly Monahan through the years! For those of you who have been in Spokane for many years, and saw her through her "Sunshine Shelly" days, you will probably remember the Shelly from back in those days. Enjoy!>>
    KHQ.COM - It's throwback Thursday! Here is a slideshow we would like to share of Shelly Monahan through the years! For those of you who have been in Spokane for many years, and saw her through her "Sunshine Shelly" days, you will probably remember the Shelly from back in those days. Enjoy!>>
  • Joan Rivers' daughter: 'Keeping our fingers crossed'

    Joan Rivers' daughter: 'Keeping our fingers crossed'

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:33 AM EDT2014-09-01 14:33:34 GMT
    KHQ.COM - The Today Show has reported that Joan Rivers is now on life support. River's went into cardiac arrest at a New York doctor's office while she underwent a "minor throat surgery" on Thursday. Melissa Rivers said in a statement Sunday that "we are keeping our fingers crossed." She's thanking people for expressing their support.

    >>
    KHQ.COM - The Today Show has reported that Joan Rivers is now on life support. River's went into cardiac arrest at a New York doctor's office while she underwent a "minor throat surgery" on Thursday. Melissa Rivers said in a statement Sunday that "we are keeping our fingers crossed." She's thanking people for expressing their support.

    >>