The lights of an approaching plane are pictured as a meteor streaks past stars in the night sky, on the outskirts of Cancun. (Photo : Reuters )
A comet is schedule to pass right near the sun in 2013, and reportedly could rival the "Great Comet of 1680" according to Russian astronomers.
Experts are predicting that Comet Ison could draw millions out of their homes at night to witness a spectacle that could be brighter than a full moon. It's already predicted to be the brightest comet viewable from earth in "many generations."
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The comet was discovered through a telescope at the Kislovodsk Observatory in Russia by astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichnok. They had been planning on using the International Scientific Optical Network's 40cm telescope on the night they made the discovery, but clouds foiled their plans according to a report by The Independent.
"Comet Elenin springs to mind as a recent example, but there are more famous examples of comets that got the astronomy community seriously worked up, only to fizzle," said Karl Battams of the Sungrazer Comet Project. "This is quite possibly a 'new' comet coming in from the Oort cloud, meaning this could be its first-ever encounter with the Sun."
Once the night cleared up, the duo started taking pictures and Nevski loaded them on a computer program that is designed to help astronomers find asteroids and comets soon after. It was then that he noticed a large bright object. They weren't able to confirm the object was a comet, so they requested time with a larger telescope to get another look.
Soon after, they determined the object was a comet and named it Comet Ison. They've been able to confirm that the comet has been traveling for "millions of years" get close enough to earth were scientists could see it.
The duo predicts that people will be able to see the comet between November and December 2013 without the assistance of a telescope according to The Independent. Its tail could act like a searchlight in the sky, and could be seen to "the unaided eye" for months.
The comet may have competition next year however, as another one is scheduled to be close enough to earth to also be seen by "the unaided eye." The 2014 L4 was discovered last year, and could be seen in the night sky sometime between March and April according to NASA.