Next year, we could potentially witness an extraordinary and very rare astronomical event – the passing of recently-discovered comet C/2012 S1. The comet, discovered in September by Russian astronomers, is expected to pass by the Earth late next year, coming closest to the Earth in November or December 2013. Of course, there have been comets before; perhaps you remember the comet Hale-Bopp in 1997, or your parents remember Halley’s Comet in 1986. Both were important and notable astronomical events in the past century, but C/2012 S1 could put them both to shame. As the comet makes it orbit around the Sun, nearing Earth, the comet has the potential to be as bright as the Moon in the night sky – and potentially being one of the brightest comets since the Great Comet of 1680. At its peak, the comet could even be visible in the daytime!
Although there is the risk of miscalculation in the comet’s path, it looks like C/2012 S1 will be lighting up our sky next December – keep your eyes on the sky, this is one historic event that you won’t want to miss.
Graeme Archibald is a fourth-year Political Science student and a very, very amateur astronomer.