Comet ISON Photos Show Detail Of Tail But Fails To Dazzle So Far

20/11/2013 11:32

Comet ISON seems to be holding back from providing the galactic spectacular it has been billed as but its still providing some amazing photo opportunities.

Hope of a dazzling spectacle now rest on it surviving its encounter with the Sun around the 28 of November.

If it makes it it through it should provide plenty to look at as catapults away.

A recent photo taken by astrophotographer Damian Peach on 15 November picked out detail in ISON's tail.


Various separate streams could be discerned leading some to speculate it is already breaking up.

Peach also took this photo of Comet Lovejoy , reminding us all there is more than just ISON up there...


  • 1 Make Sure You Have A Dark Sky And Clear Horizon
    The most important requirements for successful comet viewing are complete darkness and a clear, unobstructed horizon. Darkness is absolutely essential if you plan to get a good view of the tail. You will need the kind of dark sky that you would find out in the open countryside, where you can look up and see a starry sky -
  • 2 Where Will It Be In The Sky?
    Colin Johnston/Stellarium
    Looking south east at 6.30 am from the UK on 15 November. On 11 November the comet crossed the orbit of Venus, and by 20 November the comet will be so close to the Sun that it will be almost sunrise before its head clears the horizon, so viewing it at all at this time might be challenging, demanding crystal-clear skies. By the end of the month it should be easily seen in the eastern sky before dawn. We might just see the tail sticking up from beyond the horizon before the Sun comes up -
  • 3 If It's Bright, The Naked Eye Should Do
    For bright comets, the optical instruments of choice are just the naked eyes and, to a lesser extent, binoculars. When Comet ISON will put on its best display, throughout November and December, its coma will look like a tiny ball of light set within a milky glow. From the solid part of the comet, the tiny icy "nucleus" hidden within the coma, the tail (or tails!) will arc across several degrees of sky -
  • 4 When Can I See It?
    Comet ISON is roughly heading towards the centre of our Solar System. It will pass within 1.2 million miles of the Sun’s surface on 28th November when it reaches perihelion (the point when its at its closest to the Sun) before being whipped around to head back ‘roughly’ in the direction it came. Comet ISON's PathAs ISON makes its outbound journey, it will pass over the northern hemisphere of Earth at a distance of around 40,000,000 miles on 26th December. If ISON lives up to the hype, you could expect to see the Comet with the unaided eye anywhere between the middle of November until the middle of January 2014 (depending where you are on the planet) -
  • 5 If You Do Want Some Equipment...
    Binoculars make them more obvious, and they allow you to see subtle details in the tail – kinks, streamers, clumps and knots of cometary material – that the naked eye can’t pick up. And if you look at them through a more powerful telescope you can see sometimes subtle structure in and around the comet’s glowing head, too – jets, shells, and spikes… - waiting for ISON
  • 6 If You Want Photograph ISON...
    If you are using a camera and tripod, set your aperture to maximum, your manual focus to infinity and confirm focus is OK by taking a 30-second exposure of a star in the general area. Next take a one-minute exposure with a standard 50 mm lens at ISO 1600. Enlarge the image to look for the tell-tale small fuzzy patch which means you have caught a comet. Change to a longer lens (200 to 300 mm), zoom in and take several identical images of 30 seconds each - more photography tips here from Richard Higby

Comet ISON: Latest Pictures
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