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03/07/2013 04:54 BST | Updated 01/09/2013 06:12 BST

Comet Ison: 'Skyrocket' Pictured By Hubble Ahead Of Record-Breaking Pass By The Sun (VIDEO)

The much heralded 'Comet of the Century', also known as ISON, is still on its way to the Sun - and a brilliant rendezvous with the skies above Earth.

If it remains intact, the comet could be one of the brightest points in the night sky by the end of the Summer - and could even be visible during the day by November. Astronomers have called the prospect one of the most exciting for astronomers in living memory

And so far, despite fears that it will break up prematurely on its journey to the center of the Solar System, it's still shining bright.

In a new video captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, Nasa and the European Space Agency have provided the best view yet of the "skyrocket" comet as it makes its way closer to the Sun.

ISON was 403 million miles from Earth, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, when the pictures were taken in May.

Nasa explains:

The movie shows a sequence of Hubble observations taken over a 43-minute span and compresses this into just five seconds. The comet travels 34,000 miles in this brief video, or 7 percent of the distance between Earth and the moon. The deep-space visitor streaks silently against the background stars.

Unlike a firework, the comet is not combusting, but in fact is pretty cold. Its skyrocket-looking tail is really a streamer of gas and dust bleeding off the icy nucleus, which is surrounded by a bright star-like-looking coma. The pressure of the solar wind sweeps the material into a tail, like a breeze blowing a windsock.

As the comet warms as it moves closer to the sun, its rate of sublimation (a process similar to evaporation in which solid matter transitions directly into gas) will increase. The comet will get brighter and its tail will grow longer. The comet is predicted to reach naked-eye visibility in November.

ISON is named after the Russia-based International Scientific Optical Network, which first discovered it.