The newly discovered comet 2012 S1 (ISON), set to appear toward the end of 2013, may prove to be even brighter than a full moon.
Russian astronomers Artyom Novichonok and Vitali Nevski, of the International Scientific Optical Network near Kislovodsk discovered the extraterrestrial object on Sept 21 and the International Astronomical Union confirmed it as a comet on Sept 24.
Astronomers believe that comet ISON is on the same path of the Great Comet of 1680, which gave the most spectacular display ever visible from Earth.
Comet ISON, which is presently traversing between the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter, is believed to be on its way to Earth with the Sun's gravitational force drawing it closer. It is now 990 million kilometres away from the planet and is likely to end its travel after reaching the Sun.
Astronomers at the Remanzacco Observatory, Italy, said comet ISON "will get to within 0.012AU of the Sun at the end of November 2013 and then to ~0.4AU from Earth at the beginning of January 2014!"
Though presently dimmed, the comet is gaining speed and brightness day by day and it will outshine the moon as it reaches close to the Sun. Spectators on Earth can see the comet in broad day light but the visibility of the celestial object would depend on the length of its tail.
"If it lives up to expectations, this comet may be one of the brightest in history," Sky News quoted Raminder Singh Samra of the H R MacMillan Space Centre in Canada told National Geographic.
Indian space experts suggested that the stunning view of the comet will be visible from India too.
"How a comet will behave is generally unpredictable. However, with its present positioning, it seems that it will be as bright as the moon and visible towards the end of 2013 above the western horizon," Arvind Paranjpye, director of Mumbai-based Nehru Centre, said to The Times of India.
Astronomers did not refute the fact that the predictions about the comet may not live up to the expectations.
"While some predictions suggest it may become as bright as the full moon and even visible during the day, one should be cautious when predicting how exciting a comet may get. Some comets have been notorious for creating a buzz but failing to put on a dazzling display. Only time will tell," said astronomer Raminder Singh Samra.
The comet, which is expected to pass Mars on Oct 1, 2013, might give a brilliant view to NASA's Curiosity rover.
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