The Ottumwa Courier

February 6, 2013

VIDEO: First look at new comet

MATT MILNER
Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — You would think high tech images look new, but that's not the case for Comet Ison.

Footage released by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory looks like something out of an old Flash Gordon serial, but the comet it shows is brand new. The comet is a long way from being visible to people on earth, but the space-based Deep Impact spacecraft spotted it.

The comet was spotted only in September and scientists belive this is its first trip through the inner solar system. Ison will be a "sungrazer," which means this trip will pass very close to the sun. Sungrazers can be stunning when viewed from earth, but the close pass can also cause the comet to disintegrate, ending the show.

November is the key time for Ison. If it survives it could be visible into 2014, and may even be bright enough to be seen during the day.