Comet ISON is coming into the inner solar system and is set to dazzle astronomers. High hopes so far of the arrival of what could be called a ‘Great Comet’. Comet ISON could be more spectacular than Hale-Bopp.
Two ‘Great Comets’ arrived in the 1990s. Comet Hyakutake and Comet Hale-Bopp.
It was dubbed The Great Comet of 1996; its passage near the Earth was one of the closest cometary approaches of the previous 200 years. Hyakutake appeared very bright in the night sky and was widely seen around the world. The comet temporarily upstaged the much anticipated Comet Hale–Bopp, which was approaching the inner Solar System at the time.
Hyakutake is a long-period comet. Before its most recent passage through the Solar System, its orbital period was about 17,000 years,but the gravitational perturbation of the giant planets has increased this period to 70,000 years.
Hale–Bopp was discovered on July 23, 1995, at a great distance from the Sun, raising expectations that the comet would brighten considerably by the time it passed close to Earth. Although predicting the brightness of comets with any degree of accuracy is very difficult, Hale–Bopp met or exceeded most predictions when it passed perihelion on April 1, 1997. The comet was dubbed the Great Comet of 1997.
On Nov. 28, 2013, the head of the comet passes 800,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) above the sun’s surface. This is closer to the sun’s surface than the sun’s own diameter.
If the comet survives, it will be a daylight comet, being brighter than the Full Moon! The world awaits ISON. Are you?