27/09/2012 06:58 BST | Updated 27/11/2012 05:12 GMT

C/2012 S1 Comet Could Outshine The Moon In November 2013

A new comet has been found which astronomers say may outshine the Moon when it passes close to the Sun next year.

The C/2012 S1 comet ('Ison') could be one of the brightest comets seen in living memory.

In November 2013 it will will pass by Earth at a distance less than two million kilometres from the Sun, according to current predictions.

The comet was found by the International Scientific Optical Network in Russia last week, by astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok.


TC/2012 (ISON) as seen by the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy.

It is currently heading towards Earth from the Oort cloud, meaning it will be primed with fuel for a spectacular light show. By March it will be visible by binoculars, at around the same time as another comet (Comet Pan-STARRS) which is set to pass by close to Earth in the spring.

By November it will be less than 800,000 miles from the Sun, meaning it could burst into life and turn into a very bright object in the sky.

The newly discovered comet will be most visible in the northern hemisphere, and scientists currently predict it could outshine the Moon and shine brightly even during the day.

However, temper your expectations for now. The comet is still a long way away, and predictions about dazzling sights like these have been wrong before.

comet iosn

This NASA graphic shows the orbit and current position of comet C/2012 S1 (ISON). The comet is at present located at 6.25 AU from the sun, with 1 AU being the distance from Earth to the sun.