Comet makes closest approach to Sun on Thanksgiving Day

Comet ISON
Comet ISON
Image credit: NASA/MSFC/MEO/Cameron McCarty

Comet ISON shines brightly in this image taken on the morning of Nov. 19, 2013. This is a 10-second exposure taken with the Marshall Space Flight Center 20″ telescope in New Mexico. The camera there is black and white, but the smaller field of view allows for a better “zoom in” on the comet’s coma, which is essentially the head of the comet.

The comet makes its closest approach to the Sun on Nov. 28, 2013 — Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. Should the comet survive its close encounter with our star, the comet could put on quite a show in December.  Its tail would demonstrate the effect of the physical pressure of sunlight — the force the Sunjammer solar sail will use to fly into deep space.  Sunjammer will carry our customers’ star names into the final frontier.  Read more about the comet and Sunjammer in our blog post from early November entitled, “The Comet & the Sunjammer Solar Sail.

And check out this neat video (below) of Comet ISON rising over the Canary Islands just a few days ago!

November’s Stars and Planets

Venus is the bright ‘star’ you’ll see in the west at sunset.  It will be in the Name A Star Live constellation Sagittarius throughout November.  The Moon will help you identify Venus the night of November 6.

Venus and the Moon
Venus will be near the slender, crescent Moon the evening of Nov. 6.  Just look west after sunset and look for Venus, which will be the brightest ‘star’ in the western sky.  Venus will be among the stars of the Name A Star Live constellation Sagittarius.
The elusive planet Mercury is visible over the eastern horizon at mid-month. The ringed planet Saturn will be beneath it.  You may get a glimpse of Comet ISON by first finding these two planets toward the end of the month.  See our blog article about Comet ISON for more information.