Comet ISON's Bizarre Thanksgiving Adventure
Astronomers thought comet ISON burned up as it blazed past the sun ... until the comet reappeared in pieces.
It's been a very confusing Thanksgiving in space. While most people were eating turkey, a frozen ball of rock and space dust dove past the sun, disappeared from view and then reemerged on the other side as a cloud of fragments. At least, that's what we think happened.
Comet ISON was first spotted by Russian astronomers in late 2012. It was predicted to slingshot around the sun and rocket off into interstellar space, giving Earth viewers a spectacular light show, if it survived its close encounter with the sun.
Astronomers tuned in Thursday to watch ISON brush past the sun — and that's where things started to get weird.
The comet flew into the sun's heat and disappeared, leading most observers to pronounce ISON dead on arrival.
"It does seem that comet ISON probably hasn't survived this journey. This could be the nail on the coffin."
But a few hours later, something emerged on the other side of the sun. Something which ended up looking suspiciously comet-shaped.
That smudge matches ISON's trajectory perfectly but is too faint and disorganized to be a full comet. Observers say it's likely the fragmented remains of the comet are reforming after ISON's nucleus disintegrated during its flyby.
So ISON lives on, at least in some form, and trying to figure out what it'll do next is driving astronomers crazy. Astronomer Karl Battams says whatever's left of ISON could fly past Earth, but it's still too early to tell.
"We have a whole new set of unknowns, and this ridiculous, crazy, dynamic and unpredictable object continues to amaze, astound and confuse us to no end."
And a Slate writer adds: "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Comets and cats are equally predictable. It's a losing game to be firm with them; your best move is to watch, wait, and enjoy the show while it happens."
If there is anything left of ISON to see, it should be visible sometime around Dec. 2-4.
Europe bans Russian diesel, other oil products over Ukraine
The new sanctions create uncertainty about prices as the European Union finds new supplies of diesel from the U.S., Middle East and India.By Michael Probst / AP
Adorable police dog is getting his own picture in a school yearbook
The kids insisted on including K9 officer Detective Gibbs in the annual tradition.By Camp Hill Police Department
30-year-old pup Bobi sets new world record for oldest living dog
Guinness is calling this good boy the oldest dog ever.By Guinness World Records
Source: Kyrie Irving going to the Dallas Mavericks
The blockbuster trade ends Irving's pairing with Kevin Durant before it ever had much of a chance to click.By Frank Franklin II / AP
Lawmakers react to US shooting down suspected Chinese spy balloon
If you can't get enough of the Chinese balloon saga, turns out there's another sighting in Costa Rica.By Chad Fish via AP
Democrats introduce bills intended to bolster Black history education
Advocates for the legislation said it would invest $10 million over five years in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.By Mariam Zuhaib / AP