A new comet has been discovered that is predicted to be incredibly brilliant during late 2013 and early 2014. In fact, if predictions hold true, then C/2012 S1 as it is officially known will be one of the greatest comets in human history, far outshining the memorable Comet Hale-Bopp of 1997 and very likely to outdo the long-awaited Comet C/2011 L4 which is set to shine in March 2013. The newly discovered comet is likely to be visible to the naked eye during the daytime and brighter than the full moon at night.
The comet was discovered on September 21st by Russian astronomers beyond the orbit of Jupiter, and it is expected to reach binocular visibility by late summer 2013 and become a naked eye object in early November of next year. The comet will get very close to the sun at the end of November 2013 (~0.012AU) and to ~0.40AU from Earth at the beginning of 2014.
One note of caution – comet brightness predictions sometimes exceed their performance. Some of us remember the hype of Comet Kohoutek in 1973 that underwhelmed. Nevertheless, this comet could become a “once-in-a-lifetime” event if the predictions come close to being accurate. Stay tuned.