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ISON: Read More
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Color image of comet with stars and galaxies in the background.
Comet ISON as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope on 30 April 2013.

Discovery:
Russian astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok discover the comet with the International Scientific Optical Network 0.4 meter telescope in Kislovodsk, Russia.

How ISON Got Its Name:
ISON bears the name of the night-sky survey program that discovered it, the International Scientific Optical Network. ISON is a group of observatories in ten countries which have organized to detect, monitor, and track objects in space. The network is managed by the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The official International Astronomical Union name of the comet is C/2012 S1 (ISON). Here's how the name breaks down:

  • C indicates ISON is not expected to return to the inner solar system (even if it does survive its close brush with the sun's atmosphere in November 2013). Comets that are regular visitors such as comet Halley are designated with P for periodic comets, meaning its orbital period is less than 200 years.
  • 2012 marks the year of discovery.
  • S designates the half month it was discovered in (last half of September)
  • 1 means it was the first discovered in that period.
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Last Updated: 11 Mar 2014