2013 could be the best year for comet spotting in generations

No apocalypse is planned for 2013, but it is shaping up to be a comet-gazing year the Mayans would be sad to miss.

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The moon could have some serious competition in 2013.

No, we’re not finally building a real Death Star, no matter how much the American people demand one. I’m talking about a surprise visit from a recently discovered heavenly body known as the comet Ison. The chunk of ice and rock has likely broken free from the Oort cloud and is heading our way right now. If it survives the journey, astronomers say it could become even brighter than our lunar neighbor in the night sky as it makes a pass through our neighborhood next fall.

According to NASA, the wayward comet is currently hurtling towards the sun somewhere in the vicinity of Jupiter’s orbit. By October, it should come very near Mars, possibly allowing NASA’s rovers a view as it shakes its tail in their direction. From there, it appears it will continue toward the center of the solar system, passing within a single solar diameter of the sun’s surface before heading back more or less the way it came.

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