Comet ‘shining 15 times brighter than moon’ will fly by our planet in 2013

They are one of the most  spectacular views a human could hope to see – and next year a comet which could  outshine the moon is due to fly by the Earth.

Comet ISON is visiting the inner  solar system and is set to put on spectacular views for the Northern Hemisphere  across November and December as it heads towards the sun. It may prove to be brighter than  any comet of the last century – visible even in broad daylight – and this may  end up being its one and only trip to the solar system, as its trajectory may  see it plunge into the sun in a fiery death.

It is currently moving inwards from  beyond Jupiter, and as it approaches the Earth, the ‘dirty snowball’ could  produce a dazzling display, burning brighter than the moon and potentially being  visible in broad daylight.

The comet, discovered by  astronomers using the International Scientific Optical Network telescope in  Russia, will pass within two million miles of the sun’s surface – making it s  ‘sun-grazing’ comet. It is on a ‘parabolic’ orbit,  which means it probably originated from the outer skirts of the solar system,  perhaps from the Oort cloud – a mass of icy debris which lies 50,000 times  further from the sun than the Earth does.  If comet ISON survives the  encounter, it could take thousands – potentially millions – of years before the  comet passes back through the inner solar system.

Robin Scagell, vice-president of  the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: ‘This is a very exciting  discovery.

‘The comet looks like it could  become a very spectacular sight in the evening sky after sunset from the UK in  late November and early December next year.

Source: Mail Online