WASHINGTON (AP) — Comet ISON, once optimistically called the “comet of the century,” is dead, the victim of a way-too-close brush with the sun. It was barely a year old.
The comet, which excited astronomers and the media as it zipped within 730,000 miles of the sun on Thanksgiving Day, was pronounced dead at a scientific conference Tuesday. Astronomers who had followed the ice ball mourned the loss of the sky show that once promised to light up during December.
Naval Research Lab astronomer Karl Battams, who headed the observing campaign for the comet, said ISON was stretched and pulled by the sun’s powerful gravity. It was also hit with solar radiation. And the icy snowball just fell apart.