Comet ISON

Comet Lovejoy 12 Oct 2013.  Credit: Andrew

Comet Lovejoy or ISON? 12 Oct 2013. Credit: Andrew

Andrew took this image Saturday morning. He said the sky was a little “milky” so that probably explains the chroma effect in the comet’s tail.

>>Yeah there are some live edits as the discussion continues  :mrgreen:

Ok, we have settled on ISON, so I changed the title.  Boy, what fun, I enjoyed that!

This is sort of a tale of two comets:

Originally I was thinking this was Lovejoy but after quite a bit of discussion I was convinced otherwise.

Comet ISON is getting brighter all the while. At the moment it is near the planet Mars. The comet is now in the mag 9.3 range, probably not quite bright enough for binoculars. I’m continuing to look because who knows if everything is just so, I wouldn’t rule it out.

My rule of thumb, and this seems to be pretty close for my typical sky, is a comet’s magnitude is about two more than the measured brightness when compared to a nice focused star of the same magnitude. In other words: ISON at about a mag 9.5 so looks to me about the same as a mag 11.3 star.

If you would like to see ISON which is in the same area as Lovejoy but further east, and you have a telescope, set up on the area of RA/DEC: 10h6m55s/+14deg 16’52”.

With binoculars find Mars and check the area around Az/Alt: 86 deg 15′ / + 16 deg 52′.   if you just center Mars in your binoculars that should be good enough too and if ISON is bright enough to spot at all, it should be apparent.  The same goes for Lovejoy you can also pick out the constellation Orion in this image quite easily and use that to help get you close.

Lovejoy is a bit dimmer than ISON so it will be that much trickier to see. Don’t give up, ISON has brightened by nearly a whole magnitude in the past week as nearly as I can tell and it should get a lot better.

The only thing is, for now, you will need to be looking about 03:30 to 04:00 your local time, before daylight, but not so early it will be too near the horizon.