Comet ISON: The comet of the century or cosmic bust?

Comet ISON is seen in this five-minute exposure taken at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) on November 8th. At the time of this picture, Comet ISON was 97 million miles (156 million km) from Earth, and heading toward a close encounter with the sun on November 28th. (Reuters/Aaron Kingery/NASA/MSFC)

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The twin-tailed sun grazer called ISON, now streaking overhead, may be the brightest comet this century. And as it soars towards maximum brilliance this weekend, we look for the meaning of its lambent glow.



Some believe Comet ISON will be so dazzling, it could be the comet of the century -- others say they've heard these promises broken before.

For stargazers everywhere, Comet ISON is already a celestial delight... a comet bright enough to be seen by the naked eye. Over the next few weeks, some astronomers say Comet ISON could light up the sky... dazzling skywatchers with its magnificent tail.

Once in a lifetime galactic fireworks display due from Comet Ison -- The Telegraph

But predictions of gloriously bright comets in the recent past -- turned out to be cosmic duds. Some believe ISON isn't even big enough to survive its coming brush with the sun.

Jaymie Matthews is a professor of astrophysics at the University of British Columbia and mission scientist for Canada's first Space Telescope. He was in Vancouver.

Yan Fernandez is an astronomer at the University of Central Florida and a member of NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign --- a group helping professional and amateur astronomers observe the comet's every move.


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Anyone who's read Game of Thrones knows the importance of the Red Comet. It's the harbinger of both good and bad times. Comets hold a special place in folklore. Since ancient times humans have been fascinated and troubled when those mysterious fireballs glide across the sky.

David Eicher is the Editor in Chief of Astronomy magazine and the author of several books including, COMETS! Visitors from Deep Space. David Eicher was in Waukesha, Wisconsin.


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This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins and Lara O'Brien.


Last Word - Predictions on the fate of Comet ISON

comet-ison-140.jpgWe've been talking today about the unsettling effects comets have historically had on humans. But even the most casual surfing on the internet shows Comet ISON deeply disturbs some modern humans as well.

Many astronomers believe ISON may meet its end with a close brush with the sun. Many less scientifically minded believe ISON heralds much bigger end times.

We've assembled a few predictions, and if by some chance we survive into the New Year, well, prophecies are like comets; there's always another one coming.

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