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Last week, we reported on what many were describing as the comet of the century, in part because of the mysteries that it could uncover about our cosmic neighborhood. Comet ISON passed by the Sun on Thanksgiving Day.

Astrophysicist Karl Battams described it this way.

KARL BATTAMS: It has never been into our solar system before. It's a four and a half-billion-year-old frozen chunk of what our solar system was made of. Comet ISON is also a sun grazing comet. Which means it's on an orbit that's going to take it extremely close to the Sun, and go through the Sun's atmosphere.


Battams said he felt optimistic the comet would survive its encounter with the Sun, and there was brief hope over the weekend that it actually did. But yesterday, NASA officially declared the comet lost.

GREENE: Writing for NASA's ISON website, Battams said, quote, "It is conceivable that small chunks of ISON still exists." But he said that was unlikely. And so, Battams wrote a short obituary for the comet.

MONTAGNE: It reads: Tragically, on November 28th, 2013, ISON's tenacious ambition outweighed its ability, and our shining green candle in the solar wind began to burn out.

GREENE: Survived by approximately several trillion siblings, the obituary continues, Comet ISON leaves behind an unprecedented legacy for astronomers, and the eternal gratitude of an enthralled global audience. Comet ISON was 4.5-billion years old.

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