“Can I See Comet ISON From Where I Live..?”
I’m getting quite a few questions from people wondering if they can see Comet ISON from where they live, which is nice because it means my blog is reaching people in lots of different countries and not just in Europe or the US. If you are one of the people wondering if you can see ISON from your part of the world, this page is for you…
NOV 29th UPDATE: Comet ISON has now had its close encounter with the Sun, and it didn’t go well, as I report on other pages of this blog. But there’s still a chance we might see something in the morning sky in early December. If we do, this page will help you know where, and when, to look. But we might not see anything at all. We’ll have to wait and see.
Before anything else, what I recommend is downloading an astronomy App for your smartphone. Whether you have an Android or an IPhone, there are now several Apps which you can download, for free, which will tell you and show you exactly when and where you will be able to see ISON from where you live. There’s a whole page of this blog dedicated to them – and to other ways of finding the comet – and you’ll find it on the menu at the top of the page. The one I recommend above all others is called SKY SAFARI. I swear by it (or at it, sometimes, if the screen shows me where ISON is but the sky is cloudy…!)
Of course, lots of people don’t have a smartphone, so what do you do if you’re one of them? Well, a good place to start is with this fantastic chart, created by the Hubble ISON blog team. It splits the world into banded zones, and tells you when ISON will be visible from each band. Simple!
That should help most people, I think. It shows that basically, if you live further south than 30 degrees North you’ll be able to see ISON in the morning sky only. Further north than that and you get to see it before and after sunrise. And the further north you live, the longer you’ll be able to see it for. A Northern hemisphere comet at last! Yaay!
BUT… I am getting a lot of queries from readers in India and South Africa, asking if they will be able to see the comet. So I’ve made some special charts for you using SKY SAFARI showing ISON’s visibility for central India and Durban. Obviously, going by the chart, Durban viewers only get to see the comet during this month, before dawn. Readers in India will be able to see it before dawn during both November and December.
And please note, if you live in one of those countries but not in one of the cities shown, you don’t need to email me and ask me if you will still be able to see the comet. Its visibility within a given country won’t change much at all from city to city (unless that country is huge!). So if you live in South Africa but not in Durban, yes, you will still be able to see the comet. Likewise, if you live in India but not in Hyderabad, yes, you’ll sill be able to see the comet! :-)
That looks like a very interesting view from Indian latitudes before dawn in early December – a vertical line of 3 planets, with ISON off to the left.
I’m also getting a lot of enquiries from Japan and The Philipines, so what’s ISON’s visibility like from there? Again, you need to be looking for ISON *before dawn*, in the eastern sky. The following screenshots from SKY SAFARI PLUS will help you know where to look. They’re both set for Dec 5th, but it will be worth looking for ISON a couple of days before that and for a couple of weeks after that date too.
There. I hope that helps those readers. Please note this isn’t an open invitation to ask me if you can see ISON from *your* house! I haven’t got the time to reply to everyone or make them charts! :-) Use that NASA chart at the top of the page to get a good idea of your own viewing circumstances, and I really can’t suggest strongly enough that you download an astronomy app like SKY SAFARI onto your phone to help you find the comet, if you have a smartphone.