The comet ISON was supposed to be visible for much of December, bright enough to see without a telescope. It would possibly have been 15 times brighter than the moon in the night sky, and might have inspired literary folklore and bad pop songs. But it might not anymore.
Like the fabled Icarus, this gigantic ball of ice all but disintegrated as it passed within 730,000 miles of the sun on Thanksgiving. As you can see in the video (from multiple angles), the comet was greatly reduced in size after it passed by the star. "The question remains," NASA writes, "as to whether the bright spot seen moving away from the sun was simply debris, or whether a small nucleus of the original ball of ice was still there."
The comet was 3 million years old. But NASA reassures: "Regardless of its fate, comet ISON did not disappoint researchers."
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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