Very quick update

No pretty pics or detailed analysis tonight. It has been a long day for me, and tomorrow will be even longer. But it will also be possibly the most exciting day of my career, and leaves me much like a child on Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa to bring the gifts!

Today was rather thrilling as we saw comet ISON climb tremendously in brightness. At time of writing, I'm going to go ahead and say it's about magnitude -2 now. This makes ISON a very bright comet, and one that we are truly very lucky to be witnessing. We have less than a day until ISON's close brush with the Sun, and even in that short window we could conceivably add another three magnitudes to it's current brightness. But - on the flip-side - ISON could still start to fade away at any moment. We really have no way of knowing. We still don't know if it has an intact nucleus, but we do tend to think that there must still be something coherent at the center of its dusty coma.

I know I've harped on this relentlessly but I do just want to emphasize one final time that we will not know if ISON has survived until we actually see it emerge out from the Sun, and even then it could have suffered a fatal fracture. It could also just disappear into the solar corona and never emerge. We just don't know, and we have never claimed to.

But we've had this cosmic mystery hovering over us since September of last year, and now, at last, we are on the verge of getting an answer. This will not be a scientific discovery that happens behind closed doors, or announced in a stuffy scientific paper that most people won't read. This months-long astronomical cliffhanger is about to reach its conclusion, and will do so live, online, in realtime, for the whole world to see. I hope that everyone appreciates the truly extraordinary nature of this event, regardless of outcome, and I hope that everyone enjoys it as much as us scientists are going to!

Keep up-to-date on the latest ISON and sungrazing comet news via my @SungrazerComets Twitter feed. All opinions stated on there, and in my blog posts, are my own.