Stargazers will be looking to the sky on Thanksgiving Day as Comet ISON will meet its fate – either break up into pieces or survive and turn into a fabulous celestial show.
In San Diego, people gathered at Balboa Park before sunrise Tuesday to catch a glimpse of the comet.
NASA describes Comet ISON as a “pristine chunk of primordial material from the Oort Cloud.”
For John Young from the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, ISON is a visitor from the early solar system who has garnered a lot of attention.
“This is the first time this particular comet has come around the sun that we know of,” Young said.
“We’re studying it, watching it how it changes over time, analyzing the light that comes off of it and getting everything we can.”
The piece of the comet will reach its closest approach to the sun on Thanksgiving Day or what’s called its perihelion – the orbital point of closest approach to the sun.
If it survives passing within 730,000 miles of the sun, ISON would be visible with the naked eye through December, at least from the Northern Hemisphere.
Learn more about ISON and its approach by joining NASA’s Google+ Hangout starting at 10 a.m. PT Tuesday.