Newly discovered comet could outshine the moon in 2013
A NEW comet has been discovered which is set to put on a dazzling display in late 2013, with astronomers predicting that it could shine brighter than the moon.
The celestial object - named C/2012 S1 - could be so bright that it is briefly visible during the daytime.
The discovery of the comet was announced by the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) in Russia on Monday.
Astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok detected C/2012 S1 in photographs taken three days earlier using a 15.7-inch (0.4-meter) reflecting telescope.
The comet will start to become visible by telescope in late summer 2013 and will reach its peak brightness in November next year, remaining visible to the naked eye until January 2014.
Astronomers believe the orbit of C/2012 S1 suggests that it originated in the Oort Cloud, a vast zone of icy objects orbiting the Sun.
A report in British magazine Astronomy Now underlined the comet’s potential: “Comet brightness predictions sometimes exceed their performance. Amateur astronomers of a certain age may remember the Comet Kohoutek hype of 1973 – not quite the ‘damp squib’ it has been portrayed, since it reached naked eye visibility.
“Even if C/2012 S1 takes on the same light curve as Kohoutek it is certain to be spectacular, quite possibly a once-in-a-civilisation’s-lifetime event.”
The current predictions state that the comet will have a magnitude of up to -16, which would far outshine the memorable Comet Hale-Bopp, which blazed across the skies in 1997.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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