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Comet Siding Spring

This image of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) was taken by expert astrophotographer Damian Peach on February 2, 2014 [Image credit: Damian Peach]
By many measures, comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) is a very typical comet. It's not huge, it's not enormously bright, and it's not a danger to Earth. It does however, have one reasonably interesting characteristic, and one extraordinary characteristic...

Interesting: Comet Siding Spring is a dynamically new comet, fresh from the Oort Cloud. So, just like comet ISON in 2013, it could behave quite unpredictably as it heads in to the solar system later this year - perhaps outbursting, or fragmenting.

Extraordinary: On October 19, 2014, comet Siding Spring is going to pass ten times closer to the planet Mars than any comet on record has ever approached to Earth! By the time it reaches the Red Planet, we expect that Mars will be completely enveloped by the comet's diffuse and gassy coma!