by Joe Rao, SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist | November 12, 2013 07:44am ET
While all eyes have been on the potentially dazzling Comet ISON as it approaches the sun, one of the most studied comets in history — called Encke's Comet — will make its closest pass with the sun just one week before ISON.
Aside from Halley's Comet, Encke's Comet might be considered as the "Old Faithful" among comets. It likely has one of the most famous and richest histories of the mysterious, icy wanderers that wend their way among the planets.
Encke is the comet with the shortest documented orbital period — taking almost precisely 3.3 years to complete one revolution around the sun. Because it doesn't approach giant Jupiter as closely as some other periodic comets, Encke's orbit has remained more or less stable for hundreds of years. [Comet Quiz: Test Your Cosmic Knowledge]