Weather Blog

Comet ISON dies a second death?

Comet ISON dies a second death?
ISON Comet as seen from Shelton, Wash.. on Nov. 20, 2013. Photo courtesy: Steven Rosenow, Loowit Imaging.

The on again, off again, on again Comet ISON appears to be off again.

According to Spaceweather.com, Comet ISON is fading once again on their space telescopes.

"Whatever piece of the comet briefly survived its Thanksgiving Day brush with solar fire is now dissipating in a cloud of dust," the site says.

ISON made its closest approach to the sun late Thursday morning (Seattle time) and while solar cameras trained on the comet showed the icy rock's approach, there were signs it was breaking apart in the minutes before reaching its closest point.

Then early Thursday afternoon, NASA released video from its space telescopes showing ISON's apparent demise, and sent out a Tweet signaling ISON was no more.

But lo and behold on Thursday evening, Spaceweather.com said that the solar telescopes did show something emerging from the other side the sun -- prompting excitement that perhaps the comet survived after all!

The turn of events astounded scientists, including Karl Battams with NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign. Here is a snippet of what he posted in his blog trying to explain what he just saw:

After perihelion, a very faint smudge of dust appeared in the the LASCO C2 images along ISON's orbit. This surprised us a little, but we have seen puffs of dust from Sungrazer tails, so it didn't surprise us enormously and didn't change our diagnosis. We watched and waited for that dust trail to fade away. Except it didn't.

Now, in the latest LASCO C3 images, we are seeing something beginning to gradually brighten up again. One could almost be forgiven for thinking that there's a comet in the images!"

There was great hope that had ISON survived mostly intact, it would have put on a spectacular nighttime show in the skies from mid December through the end of January. Some had even dubbed it "the Comet of the Century."

Instead, it appears ISON is now nothing more than space dust.