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Follow live the countdown to Comet ISON's destiny with the sun

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Follow live the countdown to Comet ISON's destiny with the sun


With Comet ISON getting closer to the Sun by the minute, NASA has set up a Google Hangout to follow the event live.

You can join it here, between 7PM and 9:30PM CET

The Hangout description reads: “NASA scientists will answer your questions LIVE on air here on Google+, in the YouTube comments section during the live broadcast, or via Twitter using #ISON and #askNASA.”

Participants in this Hangout include:

  • C. Alex Young, Solar Physicist, Associate Director for Science in the Heliophysics Science Division and co-founder of The Sun Today – NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
  • W. Dean Pesnell, Solar Physicist and Project Scientist for the Solar Dynamics Observatory – NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
  • Karl Battams, Comet Scientist for the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, and solar spacecraft lead for NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign, joining from Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona, where the solar telescope will be observing ISON.
  • Phil Plait, writes Slate’s ‘Bad Astronomy’ blog and is an astronomer, science evangelizer, and author of the books “Bad Astronomy” and “Death from the Skies!“

More on ISON

It may have taken more than a million years of travel to reach the inner solar system but when Comet ISON passes by the sun the show should be worth waiting for.

ISON, named after the International Scientific Optical Network project will get as close as one million kilometres from the sun’s surface.

But scientists aren’t sure how it will hold up – if the heat doesn’t kill it, the sun’s gravity may rip it apart.

Hubble’s view of Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) on April 10, 2013. This image was taken in visible light. The blue false color was added to bring out details in the comet structure.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute)

  • NASA scientist Dr Michelle Thaller:

    “If it actually crumbles into pieces, in some ways that’s better for scientists because we’ll be able to see inside the comet and see what the chemistry is like and that’s the whole point. This is a preserved bit of the early solar system and we really want to know what conditions were like four and a half billion years ago.”

    If ISON survives intact its closest point to the earth will come in a few days. Astronomers spotted the comet a year ago giving them plenty of time to prepare for the flyby.

    With so few comets making it into our solar system ISON is an eagerly awaited cosmic event.

    What is a Sungrazing Comet?


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