Observatory Gives Real-Time View of Doomed Comet

The newly discovered comet is headed straight for the sun
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2017 8:04 PM CST
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory gives a near real-time view of a comet (left) heading toward the sun (covered by a disc) and a fiery death.   (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory)

(Newser) – Scientists at the US Naval Research Laboratory discovered a brand-new comet Thursday morning—just in time for it to smash into the sun, CNET reports. It's unclear if the comet will survive long enough to even get a name. The "sungrazing comet"—a poetic name for a comet that commits suicide by sun—was spotted by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, which uses a disc to block out the sun to allow for better viewing of what's going on around it. The observatory has noted more than 3,100 sungrazing comets since 1995, according to the Weather Network.

Karl Battams, who runs the sungrazing comet program at the US Naval Research Laboratory, offered a "SPOILER ALERT" for this week's comet, tweeting it will "vaporize loooong before it even nears the solar surface." CNET has instructions on how to watch the doomed comet's plunge into the sun in near real-time using this link. And if that's too much work, the Weather Network has a pretty neat GIF of the situation. (Read more comet stories.)

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