"Comet of the Century" may have met its demise, but hope lingers

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by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News and Photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheltonG_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on November 28, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 29 at 9:40 AM

AUSTIN – The world was watching Thanksgiving Day as the so called “Comet of the Century” swung dangerously close to the sun.

Comet ISON was first discovered in the fall of 2012 by two Russian amateur scientists. 

Right away experts knew Comet ISON was special. Much of its uniqueness had to do with its age which was estimated to be 4.5 billion years old.

The icy, dirty snowball at one point was believed to be the size of Manhattan.

As it hurled closer to our sun, that diameter shrank to one mile.

What intrigued many scientists and science fans alike was the unknown regarding ISON’s fate.

On Thursday we learned that ISON may have gotten too close to the sun to survive.

“It may have made an Icarus dive for the Sun,” said Dawn Davies, president of the Austin Astronomical Society.

Most comets are made up mainly of ice, water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, ammonia and a wide variety of other elements. Some comets are believed to also carry sugar and amino acids.

“The thing about comets that's so exciting is that comets originated at the time our solar system developed. So it's really an eye on what our inner origins are. In essence, we're looking at the building blocks of our existence,” said Davies.

Nature lovers around the globe are still clinging to hope that something of ISON may still remain, and if so, most are anxious about the possibility of getting a glimpse.

“So far there's still a possibility that some of the comet may make it out intact, although we may just see remnants of the tail itself,” predicted Davies.

If anything does remain of Comet ISON, those remnants will reach their closest point to Earth on December 26.

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