Comet ISON, Viewing information and Images

Comet ISON Streaks Toward the Sun Comet ISON shows off its tail in this three-minute exposure taken on Nov. 19, 2013 at 6:10 a.m. EST, using a 14-inch telescope located at the Marshall Space Flight Center. The comet is just nine days away from its close encounter with the sun; hopefully it will survive to put on a nice show during the first week of December. The star images are trailed because the telescope is tracking on the comet, which is now exhibiting obvious motion with respect to the background stars over a period of minutes. At the time of this image, Comet ISON was some 44 million miles from the sun -- and 80 million miles from Earth -- moving at a speed of 136,700 miles per hour. Image credit: NASA/MSFC/Aaron Kingery

Comet ISON Streaks Toward the Sun
ISON shows off its tail in this three-minute exposure taken on Nov. 19, 2013 at 6:10 a.m. EST, using a 14-inch telescope located at the Marshall Space Flight Center. The comet is just nine days away from its close encounter with the sun; hopefully it will survive to put on a nice show during the first week of December. The star images are trailed because the telescope is tracking on the comet, which is now exhibiting obvious motion with respect to the background stars over a period of minutes.
At the time of this image, Comet ISON was some 44 million miles from the sun — and 80 million miles from Earth — moving at a speed of 136,700 miles per hour.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC/Aaron Kingery

UPDATE 11/29/13 – COMET ISON may have survived. Early reports of it’s death may have been pre-mature. It appears par of it reappeared after passing the sun. Read about it here.

Update 11/28/13- Comet ISON did not reappear from the far side of the sun. It appears to have been vaporized. Read: Comet ISON most likely destroyed by the Sun.

Comet ISON, which was touted as possibly being the “comet of the century” is finally here and peak viewing is expected to be with the next week or so. Thus far while impressive it has not reached  comet of the century status, only time will tell if it will.The comet will reach its closest approach to the sun on Thanksgiving Day — Nov. 28, 2013 — skimming just 730,000 miles above the sun’s surface.

Read: 11/28/13 – Comet ISON Peak Today. Comet of Century? Maybe not.

Cataloged as C/2012 S1, Comet ISON was first spotted 585 million miles away in September 2012. This is its very first trip around the sun, which means it is still made of pristine matter from the earliest days of the solar system’s formation, its top layers never having been lost by a trip near the sun.

ISON appears

Comet ISON appears from far side if the Sun 11/29/13

Watch NASA News Conference about Comet ISON Nov 26th 1:00pm est.

Read: NASA to host Google+ Hangout to track ISON Nov 28th

The comet has been reported to have reached naked eye visibility on November 16th for darker viewing areas. The brightness intensified after and outburst last week but then quickly decreased. As of Nov 22 ISON is only about 25 degrees from the Sun, meaning it can only be observed in twilight. This does not make observing it easier.

Comet ISON

Image taken at 10:51 am est. 10/28/13. Comet ISON has moved quite close to the sun in this image from ESA/NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory captured at 10:51 a.m. EST on Nov. 28, 2013. This image is a composite, with the sun imaged by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in the center, and SOHO showing the solar atmosphere, the corona. Credit: ESA&NASA/SOHO/SDO


11/27/13 Comet ISON moves ever closer to the sun in this movie from the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, captured in the early hours of Nov. 27, 2013. A coronal mass ejection explodes off the sun — it is unlikely to damage ISON even if they cross paths.
Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO

More recently comet PANSTARRs was naked eye visible as some of you may remember. This comet was easily visible during the twilight hours.

Read: Comet PANSTARRS Video as it passes Earth…Amazing.

Comet ISON flight path

Animation of Comet ISON flight path. Individual image credit NASA. Animated GIF created by Jason H.

As you can see from this animation we are going to get an excellent view of comet ISON or the “Comet of the Century” as some have called it. Many thanks to Jason H. for creating this animation. The animation shows how comet ISON is predicted to pass out of the plane of the planets after its encounter with the Sun, (although from above it looks close to Earth, the side view however shows that it should be well above the plane of Earth’s orbit by the time ISON is on its way out. Recently there was some concern that it had broken into pieces but this turned out to be not the case, so there is still hope for a good show.

ISon Video

NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft is monitoring Comet ISON as it approaches the sun. The latest movie from the spacecraft’s Heliospheric Imager shows Comet ISON, Mercury, Comet Encke and Earth over a two day period from Nov. 20 to Nov. 22, 2013. The sun sits right of the field of view of this camera.
Image Credit: Karl Battams/NRL/NASA STEREO/CIOC.

Comet ISON

Comet ISON shines brightly in this image taken on the morning of Nov. 19, 2013. This is a 10-second exposure taken with the Marshall Space Flight Center 20″ telescope in New Mexico. The camera there is black and white, but the smaller field of view allows for a better “zoom in” on the comet’s coma, which is essentially the head of the comet.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC/MEO/Cameron McCarty

Comet ISON

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Recipient of many prestigious NASA Awards including the Exceptional Public Service Medal and the Robert H. Goddard award. Experience includes working for NASA, as a contractor, in satellite design, construction and operations. Expert in the satellite operations concepts and ground systems including command, control, and science data processing.