x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Another non-apocalypse

The end of the world has been revised. Again.

Predicting the end of the world has been a popular pastime since, well, the world began. The Earth has remained remarkably resilient despite hundreds of attempts to write it off. Most recently, the world didn't end on May 21, 2011, as nominated by US radio network owner Harold Camping, or on December 21, when the Mayans had to dash out to buy a new calendar.

Doubtless, some people are now pinning their apocalyptic hopes to December this year, when the comet Ison will make its dramatic debut in the night sky. According to Britain's The Independent, this chunk of dark ice will appear brighter than the full moon, providing the most spectacular astronomical sightseeing opportunity in generations.

Scientists say Ison has taken millions of years to get to our solar system, and will probably not return. People with small telescopes will be able to see it in August, before the comet and its long tail become visible to the unaided eye in November, becoming brightest in December before "lingering" for several more months.

But there is no need to panic. It will not - repeat, not - be the end of the world. Our advice is to relax, and make sure you've got a good vantage point, and perhaps some popcorn, so you can enjoy the show.