Watch Comet ISON skim the Sun tomorrow

The latest picture of Comet ISON as seen by the SOHO spacecraft. Credit: NASA.

The latest picture of Comet ISON as seen by the SOHO spacecraft. Credit: NASA.

On Thanksgiving Day, the much-anticipated perihelion passage of Comet ISON will occur, and astronomers around the world will be watching.

NASA is turning its fleet of Sun-observing spacecraft to watch as ISON plunges toward a fiery date with death or destiny. You can already see it in the pictures from SOHO. Click here or here to get the latest images, updated every few minutes. You can also see it in pictures from the far side of the Sun with STEREO.

But tomorrow is the main event. As ISON reaches its closest point, as close to the Sun’s surface than the size of the Sun itself and moving at 1% the speed of light, NASA will broadcast live pictures from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. There will also be a Google Plus Hangout here. The show starts at 1:00 PM Eastern, so if you’re not busy eating Turkey, check it out.

Tomorrow will be crucial to determining whether ISON becomes the Great Christmas Comet of 2013, or just a dud. After a slow start, it’s brightening nicely, and was visible in the early morning skies for the past week. NASA scientists are all but guessing at whether or not it will shatter under the Sun’s intense heat, but the very latest reports remain promising. Tomorrow, we will see in real time if ISON survives. Here’s hoping for a great show.

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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