Comet ISON C/2012 S1 Thanksgiving Comet

See full article for images and after Thanksgiving sky location for Comet ISON.

Finally, the heavens clear and the Sun appears.  Too bad for me it's a day or two late to capture final pictures of Comet ISON before it passed out of visual range.  Right now the comet is on it's way around the Sun and is too close to be visible until after Thanksgiving.  Fortunately for you, I've found a few pictures of ISON to share which dwarf anything I'm currently capable of providing on my own.

Including current pictures of the comet's approach to the Sun via the SOHO satellite

Comet C/2012 S1 ISON – View from SOHO (

Animated View


Most Current Image


And the the most spectacular shot I've seen to date.  This has so much stunning detail it looks like a painting.  Taken by Damian Peach ( on November 15th 2013.  This picture was captured using the following settings and equipment: 0.11m F5.6 STL-11k camera. LRGB: L: 5x2mins. RGB: 1x2mins.


November 29th, 2013

Viewing the day after Thanksgiving will still be a formidable challenge because (assuming the comet survives the trip around the Sun) ISON will still be very close to the Sun angularly.  You'll want to look very close to the horizon where the Sun set after sunset about 4:45 PM to 5:00 PM local time.  At this time the Sun will only be a few degrees below the horizon and ISON will only be a few degrees above it.  This also means that you'll need an extremely good Western vantage point.

The picture below provides a rough idea of where the comet will be with respect to the Sun.  The blue line represents the horizon line.  Keep in mind this picture does not take into consideration horizon obstructions such as buildings and trees or any atmospheric problems such as the sky being too bright or overcast.


December 1st, 2013

By Sunday, the comet will be a little bit further away from the Sun and should provide an easier sight.  While the comet will continue to be an early evening object (which is great for anyone who's not a night owl) it should be a naked eye sight through the first several weeks in December, depending on brightness, maybe longer.  You will still find it best for observing the comet if you find a clear sight with a vantage point that gives you an unobstructed view of the Western horizon.  Continue to look for it in the very early evening sky right after sunset.

The picture below provides a rough idea of where the comet will be with respect to the Sun.  The blue line represents the horizon line.  Keep in mind this picture does not take into consideration horizon obstructions such as buildings and trees or any atmospheric problems such as the sky being too bright or overcast.


Happy Thanksgiving and happy viewing!  Keep an eye out for updates on this as the comet swings around the Sun.

Comet ISON Late November Update

Unfortunately for me, Comet ISON has been extremely elusive. Inclimate weather has been passing through the midwest leaving only a few days where observing might have been possible, albeit with low temperatures. I made one serious attempt to capture a glimpse of the comet and photograph it using my 6" refractor but unfortunately the outting was riddled with technical problems and yielded nothing more than very cold hands.

However, the comet still holds serious promise…

As you can see by the chart included below (courtesy of Skymania), the comet is getting closer and closer to the horizon for it's Thanksgiving rendesvous with the closest approach to the Sun that it will make. While the comet is ellusive, if you get the opportunity to be up an hour to 30 minutes before dawn with clear skies over the next several days you may be able to catch a glimpse of it with the naked-eye near where sunrise will occur.  You should look for a fuzzy, bright, tail pointing straight up towards the zenith.


This comet is special in a couple of ways.  The first is that it came from the Ort cloud, a group of comets and various debris left over from the formation of the solar system.  This area is 2,500 times further away from the Sun than Pluto which means it started traveling toward the Sun over a million years ago!  This also means that it won't be back anytime soon, probably ever.  Now, assuming the comet makes it around the Sun over Thanksgiving, which is not certain right now, there is expected to be some spectacular viewing of it between Thanksgiving and Christmas as ISON begins its very long journey out of the solar system.

Keep an eye out for pictures and updates on the comet.  I'll be posting relevant information and pictures as I take them.

Comet ISON October Status Update

After Comet PanSTARRS lack-luster debut everyone was happy to have another hope for a great comet show this year in the upcoming visit of Comet ISON (Formally designated C/2012 S1 ISON). This comet was discovered on the 21st of September, 2012 by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok using a 0.4-meter (16 in) reflector belonging to the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) in Russia.

Although extremely dim at this point, around 12th magnitude (in dark skies we can see down to around the 6th magnitude), there is a chance that the comet will begin to brighten substantially enough to become a naked-eye comet.  Early reports suggested it could become the best comet to see this century, but lately those statements have been pulled back and most observers are taking a wait-and-see stance.

Currently, for those of you with telescopes large enough to capture 10-12+ magnitude you should be able to start poking around the morning sky for the comet as soon as you'd like, it looks like approximately 5 to 6 AM CDT in the morning.  The comet will be passing near Mars, and angularly near the Moon, in the morning skies over the next few weeks.

For naked-eye observers or those with smaller telescopes you'll probably need to wait a few more weeks to try to locate this comet.  Based on information I've been able to dig up so far it looks like the first week in November from around 4 to 6 AM CST will be the best time to catch the comet and it could be a much brighter 6-8 magnitude at that time.

As the month of November progresses your ability to see the comet should improve through the late part of the month.  Morning observing will probably be possible up to around November 20th, maybe a day or two past.  Around this date the comet will be too close to the horizon (because it's getting ready to be sun-scorched) and the next opportunity will be after it rounds the Sun on it's way back out of the solar system with it's closest pass by Earth, at approximately 40 million miles, happening on December 26th.

Based on the information I've been able to gather from resources and through using Stellarium to plot the location, it seems that the time around November 18th (see image below, click for full image) will be ideal since the comet should be brightening at that point and not yet below the Eastern horizon.  Once it finishes out the swing it is possible that the comet will remain easily visible into the month of January.

November 18th Comet ISON

I'll be posting updates and any pictures I'm able to capture as the month goes on.  Happy comet viewing!