Comet ISON update end of May

31 May 2013

At … the Gemini Observatory on Hawaii has released new images of Comet C/2012 SI (ISON) on its journey through the solar system and astronomers are still expecting a stunning show in November. At the moment it has a short and stubby tail pointing away from the Sun which is indicative of dust and ice escaping from the nucleus. The solar wind pushes the coma (the stretched atmosphere of the comet) away from the Sun. Currently the tail measures about 3100 miles (5000 km) and it is expected the comet will get brighter when the outgassing increases and releases more dust from the surface of the nucleus. Interestingly, most comets appear to brighten significantly and develop a tail midway between Mars and Jupiter as a result of the warming rays of the Sun that convert water ice into gas. Comet ISON is bright and active outside the orbit of Jupiter – when it was twice as far from the Sun.

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