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NASA captures photos of 'ISON Comet' that could outshine the moon later this year

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NASA has released images of a comet that could outshine the Moon later this year. The video below, shot from NASA's Deep Impact probe, shows comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) as it hurtles through space 493 million miles away from the probe. While Deep Impact has also performed observations or flybys of other comets, ISON is special: it's thought to be on its first-ever pass through the inner solar system and expected to pass only 1.1 million miles from the Sun, a prime candidate to release clouds of dust and gas that would make it easily visible from the Earth at night and even let it show up near the Sun in the daytime.

The ISON Comet (a nickname based on the Russian International Scientific Optical Network where it was discovered in September 2012) won't necessarily be the "comet of the century" it's been called. NASA's Don Yeomans has said before that "comets are notoriously unpredictable," and ISON could be destroyed before it puts on a show. If it survives, it could appear with a long, glowing tail or break apart into a bright string of smaller pieces. We'll find out on November 28th, 2013, when the comet will fly through the Sun's atmosphere.