As always, this Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah) holiday week will be all about food, friends, family, Black Friday shopping -- and one large space snowball's existential journey around the sun that will either annihilate the comet or turn it into a majestic and luminous celestial body for a brief period of time.
On second thought, I don't recall one of those things from last year. That's because Comet ISON is on target to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip around the sun on Thanksgiving afternoon. Basically a rock from deep space covered with tons of ice and snow, Comet ISON has been winging its way past Earth and our neighboring planets in recent weeks on a "sungrazing" course with our nearest star.
It will reach its point of "perihelion," where it comes closest to the surface of the sun (within only 730,000 miles) on Thanksgiving afternoon and then whip around the other side of the star and head back in our direction. If ISON survives this closest encounter with the sun, it could become one of the brightest comets seen in recent decades or longer as it passes by on its way back out of the solar system in December.… Read more