Categories: CometsHubbleISON

Stars, Galaxies, and Comet ISON Grace a New Image from Hubble

This image of the steadily-approaching Comet ISON, made from observations with the Hubble Space Telescope on April 30, show not only the comet itself but also a rich background of stars located within our own galaxy and even the distant spirals of entire galaxies much, much farther away — as Josh Sokol describes it on’s ISONblog it’s like the astronomy stickers you’d get for your kid’s bedroom, except you’d never get to see such a scene in real life “unless, of course, you had Hubble.”

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) is currently on its way into the inner Solar System on course for a close encounter with the Sun, zooming along at 77,250 km/h (48,000 miles per hour). It will make its closest pass by the Sun on November 28 (coming within just .012 AU) and will hopefully put on a pretty spectacular show in the night sky —  especially if it survives the trip.

Comet ISON’s projected path through the night sky prior to perihelion. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/Axel Mellinger)

Watch: Comet ISON Timelapse Hubble Movie

The image above was created from multiple Hubble observations earlier this year, some geared toward capturing ISON and others calibrated more for distant, dimmer objects like galaxies and far-flung stars. By combining the results we get a view of a comet speeding through space with an almost too-perfect hyperrealism, courtesy of NASA’s hardest-working space telescope.

“The result is part science, part art. It’s a simulation of what our eyes, with their ability to dynamically adjust to brighter and fainter objects, would see if we could look up at the heavens with the resolution of Hubble. The result is a hodepodge of almost all the meat-and-potatoes subjects of astronomy – no glow-in-the-dark stickers required.”

– Josh Sokol, HubbleSite ISONblog

Learn about other ways NASA will be observing Comet ISON here.


Jason Major

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Recent Posts

NASA Opens the Lid on OSIRIS-REx's Sample Capsule

NASA teams have started the intricate process of removing the samples of asteroid Bennu from…

14 hours ago

How Do Lava Worlds Become Earth-Like, Living Planets?

Earth was once entirely molten. Planetary scientists call this phase in a planet's evolution a…

16 hours ago

Day Has Returned, but India’s Lander and Rover have Failed to Wake Up

It looks like India's Chandrayaan-3 succumbed to the cold, and its mission is over. The…

16 hours ago

Even Tiny Amounts of DNA on Mars Will Be Detectable

The Search for Life is focused on the search for biosignatures. Planetary life leaves a…

22 hours ago

It’s Official. No More Astronomy at Arecibo

Even though the National Science Foundation announced last year that it would not rebuild or…

22 hours ago

Chinese Astronauts May Build a Base Inside a Lunar Lava Tube

Caves were some of humanity's first shelters. Who knows what our distant ancestors were thinking…

2 days ago