Comet ISON : Visible without telescope

The comet ISON is making its first and perhaps only round into the inner solar system. While the very nature of comets makes their behavior hard to predict, so far this comet has been sticking to the schedule which will see it disintegrating by 28 November as it approaches the sun. The whole process should offer us on Earth a spectacular view of cosmic fireworks.

Comets are essentially composed of bits of space rock, fluids and gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water and ammonia. They also orbit the sun although their orbits are not as steady as that of planets. As they approach the sun the matter inside them begins to heat up and undergoes a process called sublimation.

In this process the material making up the comet goes from solid to liquid and if there is not enough mass left the whole comet will explode. The disintegration of the comet can be avoided if the critical mass of the comet can be maintained till it starts moving away from the sun and cooling off again.

The people observing comet ISON feel that it will continue to become brighter in the sky as it approaches the sun till it eventually disintegrates. There doesn’t seem to be much hope of the comet surviving a trip into the inner solar system. Still tracing its path and behavior make an interesting science project.

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