The LT takes an early look at Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)
Image of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)
Credit: NSO / LJMU

Just thought we would share an early image of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) with you, that was taken by the Liverpool Telescope on the evening of the 25th March. The comet, which should traditionally be called Comet Nevski–Novichonok after its discoverers, is a sun-grazing comet that may become one of the brightest comets for many a year during November and December 2013. And it if doesn't break up as it swings around the Sun, it should still be visible to the naked eye in the northern hemisphere through Christmas and well into 2014.

Because of its near parabolic orbit, Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) is thought to be a first time visitor to the Solar System, and will make its closest approach to the Sun on the 28th November 2013, when it will pass just 1,100,000 kilometres (680,000 mi) above the surface of the Sun - that's less than three times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. On its way towards the Sun, the comet will pass within 0.072 AU (10,800,000 km; 6,700,000 mi) of Mars on 1st October 2013, and on the way out, will pass about 0.42 AU (63,000,000 km; 39,000,000 mi) from Earth on 26th December 2013.

Although the exact brightness of the comet is hard to predict at this stage, some astronomers think it might be one of the brightest comets since 1935 - assuming it isn't broken up by the Sun that is - but we will keep you posted on its progress using our Facebook page.