It may have taken more than a million years of travel to reach the inner solar system but when Comet ISON passes by the sun the show should be worth waiting for. ISON, named after the International Scientific Optical Network project will get as close as one million kilometres from the sun’s surface. But scientists aren’t sure how it will hold up – if the heat doesn’t kill it, the sun’s gravity may rip it apart. If ISON survives intact its closest point to the earth will come in a few days. Astronomers spotted the comet a year ago giving them plenty of time to prepare for the flyby. With so few comets making it into our solar system ISON is an eagerly awaited cosmic event.
In December, ISON will grow dimmer, and it might visible from both hemispheres of Earth. It will be well placed for observers in the northern hemisphere during mid to late December 2013. After perihelion, it will move north on the celestial sphere, passing within two degrees of Polaris on 8 January. ISON may be visible to the naked eye until early January 2014.
Note: you can also follow ISON’s current progress as seen from SOHO at their website!