November 30th – Two days after perihelion

22.45: All but gone…

Here’s the very latest pic of ISON…


She’s almost gone, hasn’t she? That’s not a comet, I don’t think. That’s a cloud of dust; ISON’s Sun-blasted corpse, wafting away from the Sun.

Damnit. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I guess we shouldn’t give up hope altogether. ISON might surprise us… again… right?


I think it’s pretty clear now that we’re not in for a bright naked eye comet in our skies in December. At this rate we probably won’t even be able to see what’s left of ISON without a telescope. It might even be the case that taking a long exposure photograph through a telescope will be the only way to see ISON ever again. I hope not, but I have a feeling that’s the way it’s going to be.

I hope the Sun is feeling pleased with itself for killing our poor little comet. Actually, I know it is, because the latest SOHO images actually show it grinning…

sun grin

But remember, even if ISON has gone, there is ANOTHER comet in the sky RIGHT NOW, that you don’t need to get up at stupid o’clock in the morning to see, and can see through just a pair of binoculars – maybe even with your naked eye if you’re looking for it from a dark sky site with little or no light pollution. If you want to track it down – and seriously, I urge you all to try, so you can say you have seen a comet, even if it’s NOT ISON – then just go to this blog’s dedicated “Comet LOVEJOY” page by clicking on the link on the menu at the top of the page. There are finder charts waiting for you there! Go! Now!





12.00: I think we’re losing her…

Oh no… it’s not looking good for ISON, or whatever’s left of ISON.

This was the view from the SOHO observatory at just after midnight last night…


Still looking fairly bright there, decent tails coming off a reasonably bright central condensation. But by 08.00 the view and the outlook for ISON had both changed…


As you can see, the comet looks a lot fainter there, more diffuse too. Suddenly it looks a lot less like a solid body, coming back to life, than a cloud of debris starting to spread apart. I suppose it might start to brighten again, but it’s the way the central area looks both bigger *and* fainter that concerns me…


All we can do now is wait and see what the experts say. And obviously keep crossing our fingers that ISON is just playing up again and is going to settle down and start brightening again…

Some of us went out looking for ISON this morning, but even before we got to our observing site we were pretty certain, based on the latest info that ISON was dimming, that we wouldn’t see it. And of course we didn’t. Apart from the fact that there was a bank of low cloud right above the point on the horizon where ISON was due to rise, the sky was just too bright; once we lost sight of Mercury and Saturn low in the east, both considerably brighter than ISON was at that time, we knew we weren’t going to see the comet.

We did see A comet tho! Comet Lovejoy is still shining very prettily close to the stars of the Big Dipper. Here are some of the pics I took this morning….


Lovejoy is in the lower right corner. Easier to see if I crop that a bit…


And zooming in a bit more…


Quite pleased with those, and Lovejoy looked really pretty in binoculars too.

We also enjoyed a lovely view of the very old crescent Moon with Mercury and Saturn shining close to it and close together. I’ve marked the planets’ positions on the following photo. Saturn is higher in the sky and closer to the Moon than Mercury… (click to enlarge)

merc sat b

On this next image, just showing the two planets, arrowed, Saturn is higher than Mercury…


So it was still worth going, even though we didn’t see ISON.

Will we now Will anything appear in the sky before dawn in a few days time? I don’t know.No-one does. But I must confess I really don’t like the look of the comet now, and I’m less confident than I was. But hey, not giving up yet!


35 Responses to “November 30th – Two days after perihelion”

  1. Thanks a lot for writing your extensive blog on comet ISON! The comet held much anticipation for me and my photography, and your writing sums up everything there is to know about the supposed ‘comet of the century’. Truly a blog to be followed! Let’s ho[e we still have something to look for in the pre-dawn skies the coming weeks.


    • Hey Daniel, thanks for that. Yes, I think we’ve lost ISON, but give Lovejoy a go! It was looking really pretty this morning. See my special LOVEJOY page for charts.

  2. Like a comet
    Blazing โ€˜cross the evening sky
    Gone too soon

    Shiny and sparkly
    And splendidly bright
    Here one day
    Gone one night

    Born to amuse, to inspire, to delight
    Here one day
    Gone one night

    – From the song โ€œGone Too Soonโ€ by Michael Jackson

    Au revoir, ISONโ€ฆ.

    • Hope is not gone!

      Comet Siding Spring is giving off another round of Comet-Mania! From the same place as ISON, the Oort Cloud, this Phantom of the Opera may just give an encore for the astronomers.

      From the time of its discovery last January, Siding Spring was nicknamed “Deep Impact”, “Armaggedon” for the reason that it will have a very close brush with Mars! New information says that the odds of impact is like finding a specific toothpick in a toothpick factory; 1 in 120,000

      Nevertheless, the deep dark sky still holds a couple of tricks on its sleeves ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Well, unfortunately we have to wait until around this time next year for Sliding Spring, but hopefully Stuart makes a blog for her, just like he did for ISON.

  3. This link helps show what happened to ISON high quality STEREO images I talked about on the last page:

  4. My Theory

    1. ISON enters the C3’s line of sight with an intact nucleus
    2. As ISON goes near the sun, the pressure due to the acceleration of the comet and the gravity of the sun gradually increase
    3. Before ISON reaches the blocked part of C3, the nucleus is flattened by the immense pressure. Much like a ball of snow sandwiched between two boards; the top is the sun’s gravity while the bottom is the comet’s speed. The comet’s speed keeps it intact. The appearance is like a very long, thin ellipse
    4. ISON enters Perihelion. The comet compacts up due to centrifugal force of the sudden drop in the initial direction’s speed and the increase in the final direction’s speed. Much like the “spinning the water-filled bucket” trick.
    5. ISON’s fragments escapes perihelion. The acceleration in the new direction plus the inertia of the former direction slowly scatters the fragments.
    6. ISON is far away from the sun so that there is less pull due to the gravitational pull of the sun.The fragments still scatters as the inertia of the former direction is still present.
    7. The fragments scatters over a wide area, making the appearance of the comet look like an inflating triangle.
    8. The scattered fragments melt faster as they move far away from each other.
    9. The ice is exhausted. END

  5. I hope ISON is, it caused geomagnetic storms.

  6. A little off-topic, but any chance you could post that moon+stars pic without the circles? It’s a really nice shot and I’d like to use it as wallpaper!
    LOL, thanks…

  7. I think that others have said so, but would you keep this blog going (of course with some other name like ISON’s Legacy or the like)? I really like it and was very useful. Thank you.

    • Yes, please do as Tango has requested! I am so happy/lucky that I found your site! You have put much time and energy into this and it has been so helpful! I live in the middle of the U.S. and have always been fascinated by the sky, what is in it and what is going on! Thank you SO much!

  8. Thanks for the great web site – I’m in Djibouti, Africa for a year and have been clutching a pair of borrowed binocs and checking for updates several times per day.

    Just downloaded a week’s worth of Helioviewer coverage and posted the video here: if anyone is interested.


  9. So i guess since Ison has lost her flare after her trip around the sun there will be less coverage on her, or she’s presumed “deceased”?

  10. Great site and very, very usefull, as it stopped me from even trying to find an elevated pasture to view poor ISON this early morning in Virginia, USA.
    Cheers, Tom.

  11. I was still looking around for the update on how ISON was faring by this morning when I got the email notification of the new nutter response over in the “Doomed” page. I felt compelled to respond to that conversation before I finished looking for the update. Just so you know, that I do actually look for information before I bug people with questions. Adding my update question to my response to the mean nutter was just easier since I had taken up so much of my morning coffee time typing.

    It’s time to wake the family now. We are going to go see Gravity 3D before it comes out of theaters and we miss it on the big screen. Going to the theater for the first early showing on a Sunday morning is the least crowded time!

    Thank you Phoenixpics for this blog. Keep it around with useful bits from our night sky. Seems a lot of us “found” you because of ISON. I know I would like to learn more about the night sky, even if the sun is laughing at us for killing ISON. Besides, I love the little phrases you Brits use and the only way I am going to learn them is by reading them from a Brit! (Even when Brits insult people, you do it with sophistication! Calling someone a nutter is my new favorite thing!)

    Cheers!! ๐Ÿ‘ฝ (Damn he’s cute!!!)

  12. One thing we do know is that comets have a core of sorts, however the little that’s left is on it’s way – bye, bye, there will always be doom-tards waiting for another so they can run around screaming “The sky is falling!!”

  13. Because of this, I hate the sun, it is evil! Maybe we can see comet Lovejoy.

  14. i too found this site through Ison. Would like to see it continue in some shape or form. I particularly liked the blog about your visit to the dark sky site in northern England. Loved the photography, i live in the Scottish Highlands at nearly 59 degrees north latitude so i know how good a truly dark sky is, the Aurora up here can be incredible! Anyway, keep up the good and funny work ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. […] […]

  16. OKAY, where the hell have I been? I was looking for Ison this morning thinking, “Well, it’s about time…” Just before midnight here in SATX and I am just finding out that Ison got dusted. There were early reports about it not making the perihelion. I thought, “Damn!” Then I saw the helio-viewer movie and it looked like it made it. “Farout!” I check again and then a few more times and I’m stoked big-time! It was looking great! So I’m out there this morning with my pajamas on, a jacket, a cigarette hanging out of my mouth, cup of coffee, tripod with binoculars set and generally aimed, freezing my ass off, as the kids are walking by on the way to school looking at this 52 year old man and wondering not only what it is he is looking at but, what the hell he’s doing on the roof of his house. So then, there’s that! I even had Stellarium and the Comet Ison 3-D model up with shortcut icons on my desktop. I wasn’t missing this one for the world. It seems I couldn’t astronomy an asteroid if it slammed up against my head! j/k
    So I’ll be checking out Love Joy and checking in often to what else is going on. My actual purpose for this note is to also say that I have also found this website a treasure trove of knowledge; and, I for one like the personal touch in the writing. I like it when my brain laughs. So thanks for everything up to now and into the future. For some of us, whenever our day gets a little surreal and a bit much, all we have to do to get away is look up…

  17. One more thing I forgot to mention! On March 12 of this 2013 here in SATX just before sunset or so, and looking up when I was supposed to, my wife and I both saw Pan Starrs! It was clear and no mistaking it; and, it was huge! We watched it and got to see it a few more times changing our viewing time a little bit each day. But on that day looking up from the Earth, seeing the comet and it’s relationship to the Sun for the first time had a real sense of what space is and where we are in it and…all of the sudden space didn’t seem so big. Instead of millions and billions of miles, it was more along the lines of, “…it’s over there…” It was a very real and cool feeling that stays with me every day. And I saw the Total Solar Eclipse in NC in the late sixties. That was a pretty spooky and ominous feeling. Probably something more like that. Also, I have traveled in airliners, watched the Apollo program as a kid and have ogled every Hubble jpeg I can get my hands on as I’m sure as everyone here has. But the perspective of proximity and distance and direct relationship I realized was quite an eye opening epiphany. I hope everyone gets a chance to experience it.

  18. Hey John.

    I was in Cornwall on the 11th of August 1999, for the first total eclipse of the sun from England in almost a century.

    Unfortunately the sky was grey for totality but it was still an amazing experience. To actually sit in the moons shadow for a full 150 seconds was the best single experience in my whole life. There is a sort of addictiveness to this event that only those who have been luck enough to witness could explain.

    I crave to sit in that lunar shadow again, but it won’t be in the UK if I do. I think it is 2092 or around then for our next total eclipse.

  19. March 7, 1970. We were in North Carolina at the time. I was 9 years old and I can still remember it to this day. It clear and almost not a cloud in the sky. Einstein would have been so lucky the first time he sent his boys out to gather proof that gravity can bend light. I went back and looked it up. The next one in the U.S. is next year. From SATX we would have to drive up into Kansas to see it. Maybe we will?!?

  20. Ashto, for us in the UK there is a total solar eclipse not too far north of us in the Faroe Islands in March 2015. Not far compared to where they usually hit!

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