It’s a cosmic cliffhanger. Will comet ISON pull through its close encounter with the sun — or be cooked to oblivion?
As long as ISON survives on Nov. 28, early December should be the best time to spot the comet. And YOU may be able to spot this celestial beauty from the comfort of your own backyard. Check out the guide below.
There will be live feed from NASA’s SOHO Sun-observing satellite that should be spectacular and from the Kitt Peak Observatory solar telescope. Guests include astronomers C. Alex Young, W. Dean Pesnell, Karl Battams who runs the SunGrazingComets feed on Twitter, and me! I’ll be on from 1:30 – 2:30 EST to talk about the comet, the Sun, and what we’ll be seeing on the screen.
We’ll also be answering questions live from Twitter; ask away using the hashtags #ISON and #askNASA.
A blast of particles from the sun called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, is seen at the right of this image taken on Nov. 22 by the STEREO-A spacecraft. (The sun is not actually visible.) Comet Ison is at the extreme left of the image. A smaller comet, Encke, is also visible, as is Mercury and the Earth. It is not known for sure whether this CME actually hit Ison. But the image does provide a sense of the increasingly violent environment the comet is encountering as it comes ever closer to the sun. (Source: Karl Battams/NRL/NASA-CIOC)
ISON has continued to brighten in recent days, becoming visible to the naked eye in the early-morning sky above the eastern horizon. Recent footage of the comet has been spectacular, but ISON could become harder to spot as it continues on its inexorable dive toward the Sun.
Singapore-based sky photographer Justin Ng pieced together a stunning time-lapse video of two comets streaking across the pre-dawn sky.
One of many tips for photographing ISON.
Don’t forget to “bracket” your exposures — that is, take a series of shots of the comet at various shutter speeds and/or apertures. This will increase your chances of getting the correct exposure.
Taken by Juan Carlos Casado on November 21, 2013 @ Teide Observatory, Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
via Comet ISON.