Break-up of Comet ISON would be no danger to Earth

The Hubble Space Telescope captured this view of Comet ISON on May 8, 2013.Comet ISON is drawing nearer, and although we know quite a bit about it already, there's still a lot of speculation about exactly what will happen with this supposed 'Comet of the Century' as it whips around the sun.

Since ISON is a 'sungrazing' comet, there's a chance that it won't survive its pass around the sun in late November. The intense heat it experiences when it's that close to our parent star could cause it to break apart into fragments. News like that often causes some worry, as we've all, no doubt, been treated to stories (either sci-fi or just someone 'spinning a tale') where that's when things go horribly wrong for the people of planet Earth.

However, as a new video from the team that runs the Hubble Space Telescope tells us, even if Comet ISON does break up, we're going to be in no danger. That's because the fragments would stay on the exact same path that the comet would have followed if it stayed intact:

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Currently, Comet ISON is still out beyond the orbit of Mars. You can check out its location and path using a great online interactive simulator, located at SolarSystemScope.com. It's already visible to telescopes here on Earth (look in the constellation Cancer in the hours before sunrise), and it will be making a very close pass over Mars' north pole at the beginning of October. That should provide a great show to the satellites and rovers there, and give us a great preview for the show we'll be able to see in the months to come.

(Image courtesy: NASA, ESA, J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute), and the Hubble Comet ISON Imaging Science Team)

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