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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published July 29 2013

Weather Talk: Comet ISON could be quite a sight in later part of 2013

Comet ISON is being called the “Comet of the Century” in some circles. But it could turn out to be a big flop.

The comet, discovered months ago, is moving toward the sun and is in between the orbits of Earth and Mars. At the moment, it is not bright enough to be seen except through powerful telescopes. As it gets closer to the sun, an increasing amount of the frozen gasses in the comet’s head will evaporate, freeing up dust particles, which together will form a visible glowing head and tail during November.

If the comet can survive a close encounter with the sun around Thanksgiving without completely evaporating, its path will make it highly visible from Earth over the middle of winter, and it has a chance of being really spectacular.

On the other hand, if the comet does “burn up,” it will not be spectacular at all. It seems that forecasting comets is at least as hard as forecasting weather.

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