Mike Hankey has captured this extraordinary photo of the comet ISON, which is experiencing some surprising activity as it approaches the Sun. It's so perfect it seems unreal. ISON was discovered only a year ago and it's now observable in the night sky.

Hankey took this photo with a 60 second exposure.


According to Pablo Santos Sanz—of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalucia—ISON has experienced an impressive fifteen-fold increase on the sublimation of hydrocyanic acid and water in the last 48 hours.

Scientists don't know exactly why this explosive reaction has occurred. One of the theories, according to Santos Sanz, is that the comet's rotation axis is more or less aligned with its direction towards the sun, so it's getting a lot of solar radiation.


An image of the comet by the Observatio de Sierra Nevada, Spain.

Here's the before and after the explosion, by Juano González Díaz

If you live outside of a city, you can see ISON in the sky now with your naked eye. With good binoculars, you will be able to see it clearly. Just wake up early (around 4:30am or so) and look for Mercury. Ison should be above it, to the right.