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How to make a grown astronomer cry
[Posted by Adam Forrest on Tuesday, 12/10/13 5:28 pm] [Full Blog] [Related Posts] [Tweet This]

Comet ISON, once optimistically called the comet of the century, has been officially pronounced dead, the victim of a way-too-close brush with the sun. It was barely a year old.


The comet, which excited astronomers and the media as it zipped within 730,000 miles of the sun on Thanksgiving Day, was declared as having bit the cosmic dust at a scientific conference today. Astronomers who had followed the ice ball mourned the loss of the sky show that had promised to dazzle the northern hemisphere during December.

Astronomers had hoped it would survive because while most comets do not make it past close approaches with the sun, some do survive the ordeal. But unlike comets that are "hardened" by several trips around the sun, it seems ISON just couldn't survive its maiden voyage.

As the comet neared its closest approach to the sun, astronomers said they felt a sense of loss. Naval Research Lab astronomer Karl Battams, who headed the observing campaign for the comet, called watching it in those final hours "a process of heartbreak."


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