While most of us here in the US were enjoying the Thanksgiving Day holiday, 100 million miles away the comet ISON was rounding the sun on its first trip through the solar system. But would it also be its last? As it approached the Sun on November 25, it exhibited a beautiful coma and tail, as seen in this NASA imagery from the STEREO solar observation spacecraft in orbit around the Sun (note also Comet Encke crossing paths with ISON near the end of the footage):
But while ISON was blocked from view on the far side of the Sun, something happened. As first it seemed to have been destroyed completely in its grazing pass of the Sun, but then something emerged:
Phil Plait, who has been following ISON closely, offers some hope that it may be a sight in our skies once more:
It’s still bright, though not nearly as bright as it was. And it’s still very close to the Sun, just a few degrees away, so it won’t be visible just yet. However, after a few days, if it stays bright, it may be visible in the pre-dawn sky. I wouldn’t bet on it, but geez, I wouldn’t bet against it either with this comet.
Go, ISON, go!