Updates: December 2013 (1)

December 6th 2013: A milestone reached…

Took a bit of a break from the blog for the past few days, needed to attend to some real life stuff – writing, editing, sleeping, you know the kind of thing – but back now with some rather amazing news… Just look at this…


Look over there to the “All time” figures…

1,009,495 views… over a million views of this blog… that’s something, isn’t it? I’m quite proud of that. 🙂 And if you’re one of that million plus readership, thank you, I truly appreciate you coming here. (Unless, of course, you’re one of our regular house band of trolls who insist on smearing their ISON Armageddon/ Nibiru-Apocalypse / Electric Universe / Debris Hitting Us NOW! BS on the walls. I don’t appreciate you, but hey, you took us past that million milestone mark so thank you! Looks like the last laugh is on you, eh? Haha! 🙂  )

I set up this blog a year ago with one simple aim: to give people who wanted to know the basic un-embroidered facts about ISON – what it is, where to look for it, and how to see and photograph it – somewhere to go for reliable trustworthy, practical and jargon-free information. Basically I put myself in the shoes of someone with no previous knowledge of astronomy, who had heard about ISON, and wanted to know how to see and enjoy it. That’s why I kept the blog simple, and only used very basic charts and maps. I remember being an absolute beginner in this hobby and being terrified by the books and magazines I found in the library: they were so full of acronyms, abbreviations and gobbledygook, and charts and diagrams which looked more like Elvish writing from Middle Earth than astronomical illustrations that they put me off. So I have tried to write a blog for people who just wanted to see and enjoy ISON, whatever it did, without having to wade through tons of complicated science and theory. And from the lovely comments people have left here I think I managed that!

Of course, some comments haven’t been quite so nice, and some have been outright abusive and offensive. If you’re thinking “Oh they’re not THAT bad!” that’s probably because I’ve sent the very worst ones to the Trash before anyone else got a chance to read and be shocked, offended or disgusted by them. Trust me, some were sickening. But that goes with the territory, I know; as soon as you post a blog online it’s there for anyone to read (that’s the idea! Duh!) which also means anyone can comment. Which is usually fine, free speech and all that, but sometimes people have taken it too far and then I have had to cut them off.

And on the subject of Free Speech, I have to say that I find it absolutely **hilarious** that one of the most prolific web forums for “alternative subjects” – i.e. UFOs, conspiracy theories, Nibiru, End of The World stuff – whose members have regularly linked to this blog, and reproduced its content without my permission – has actually  BANNED me from accessing their site! Yes, you read that correctly. A forum I have never been a member of, and would never dream of being a member of, and which links to/quotes from/uses material from my blog, has banned me from looking at it. I have emailed the admins three times now, politely asking for either access to the forum – to see just which stuff of mine is being used – or for at least an explanation for my ban, but, predictably, nothing has come back. No, I’m not going to name the forum – they know who they are, and I’m not going to give them more exposure! – but so much for supporting “Free Speech” and being against censorship eh, you hypocrites…:-)

I had hoped that this blog would help people, but I had no idea so many people would find it so useful and interesting that it would break through that 1m views barrier. That’s fantastic! So, thanks everyone for reading this and for your support. I really do appreciate it. And I’m delighted that now Comet ISON has gone, many readers – old and new – are now using this blog to help them find and enjoy Comet Lovejoy in the sky. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look, it’s looking really pretty, as this pic of mine, taken Wednesday morning, shows…


I hope you’ll keep reading!



December 1st 2013: Farewell, ISON…

She’s gone. That’s it. Comet ISON is gone. What remains is just a cloud of dust particles, blindly following the comet’s original path, slowly, slowly spreading apart. The last images of it taken by the SOHO observatory’s C3 camera showed the dust cloud had already spread so thin that you could see stars through it. This morning the comet has left that camera’s field of view..


…but most experts are agreed that whatever is left is now too diffuse to appear as anything more than a dim misty smudge in telescopes in a few days, if they can even see that.

Essentially, Comet ISON was already a burned meringue as it approached the Sun. Then the Sun reached out, grabbed that meringue in its fiery fist, crushed it to powder and then contemptuously flung the powdered remains out into space, laughing…

What a shame, what a crying shame. We northerners have been cruelly cheated of our best chance in years to enjoy looking at a Great Comet shining in our sky. The photos I was going to take… now never to be taken. Damnit.

Astronomy does this to us sometimes. It promises something spectacular, something wonderful – a sky-filling aurora, a meteor storm, a bright comet – and then yanks the carpet out from under us, and walks away, laughing, as we lie there on the ground, humiliated and feeling so, so stupid for believing it in the first place…

I’ve had that happen to me so many times now, I’ve lost count.

But it goes with the territory. Sometimes we’re let down. Sometimes we’re slapped across the face by the universe for our naivete and enthusiasm, and are just left to stand there, holding a hand to our smarting faces, trying not to burst into tears. Oh, but sometimes… sometimes it goes right, and we see something… magical, something spectacular, something that fills us with wonder and leaves us shaking our heads in disbelief at the sheer beauty of the universe.

ISON was, it seems, never destined to do that. But one day a comet will be discovered which WILL unfurl a beautiful tail across the sky, and leave us all breathless with its beauty. That day might come soon – it could be found later today, it could even have been photographed by one of the remote surveys half an hour ago but has yet to be spotted by someone – or it might not come for years. But it will come, and when it does we’ll be ready for it, and we’ll all gather here again to enjoy it together. I hope.

In the meantime, I’ll keep reporting on ISON as it drifts apart and away, just to complete the story. That’s only fair. But, eventually, this blog will go into hibernation, to be woken – like Ripley  – when another noteworthy comet appears or is discovered. I’ve appreciated all the feedback from people who have come here hoping to find good, solid, easy to understand info about Comet ISON. People have left some lovely comments! Others have left not so nice comments, but pay them no notice. Now ISON has gone those nutters and fools will conveniently forget their rants and raves about it – they will forget they predicted ISON would hit the Sun and trigger solar flares, or hit Earth and kill us all, or was actually the fabled “Nibiru”, or was an alien biosphere called Xanterexx carrying thousands of extraterrestrials to make first contact with us – and move on to something else to talk and Tweet absolute bollocks about, and make lie-filled YouTube videos about. If they want to waste their lives on such utter stupidity, that’s their choice, but I chose, right at the start, to not let them corrupt this blog and I think I succeeded pretty well in that.

This blog isn’t going anywhere yet, and when it eventually does, if you want  to, feel free to read my other blogs. Details here

In the meantime, Comet Lovejoy is putting on a great show in the sky! So if you saw ISON and are disappointed you won’t see it again, or if you never managed to see ISON and really, really want to see a comet, you can, on the next clear night, and easily too. Lovejoy is brighter than ISON was, and is shining in a dark sky too, not in the sunrise glow. Finding it is easy – just go to my dedicated Comet Lovejoy page (link at the top there) and you’ll find all you need. I saw and photographed it last night and it was just beautiful. So, get yourselves along to that page and start planning your Comet Lovejoy hunt!

61 Responses to “Updates: December 2013 (1)”

  1. Your blog is a great farewell for Ison. Loved it.

  2. Great blog, really helped me with my first comet observing and my first step into an astronomy. Tonight it will be bright sky here in Slovakia and Lovejoy will be shining next to a tip of Bootes, so i´m reaaaly looking forward to it 😀 Great job, keep up! 🙂

  3. Let’s remember, the wealth of information that our satellites and telescopes have captured from the breakup of this 4-billion-year-old primordial building block of the solar system will be more astonishing than any visual event above our heads! Small consolation, but big science later, right?

    • Oh absolutely! Great big wonderful science! 🙂 but I’ve grown up, as an amateur astronomer, longing and hoping to see a Great Comet in my sky, like the ones I show people in my Outreach talks, and really thought it was going to happen this time… So it is genuinely gutting to lose ISON like this. So while my head celebrates the science won, my heart mourns the loss of all those quiet dusks and dawns spent watching a Great Comet shining above my town, on my own or in the company of friends, or strangers, marvelling at the beauty the universe sometimes offers us.

  4. Thanks for keeping this blog, I too was looking forward to this as a photographer, trips planned out, etc. Oh well, maybe nature will give us another shot soon.

  5. Oh no…. I was with you all the way on this site. I started back in February following your blog and very happily found and observed comet Panstarrs as a consequence. I like many others was looking forward to seeing ISON but will now be disappointed. I read with interest your somewhat restrained comments about the apocalyptic doom mongers and searched them out to hear what they were saying, priceless is all I will say as I don’t wish to have my reply deleted for profanity 🙂 I will try to find Lovejoy later and for the meanwhile,good luck with your future and enjoyable websites , Lets keep our fingers crossed for the comet of a life time. Mind you I thought Hale Bopp was pretty damned good !! regards Chris

  6. It was not a total lost. Scientist have heaps of data to pour over, plus we got a ringside seat to a sungrazer’s fiery death at the hand of our mighty sun.Its ironic how great comets come “suddenly”…i.e Hyakutake (saw this and have nice SLR” piccies), McNaught (saw this brilliant comet as I was living in oz at that time…but the weather robbed me of seeings it fully outstretched tail…but I did see it in daylight!!!!), Lovejoy 2011……I kinda expected this of ISON since we had so much time to prepare for it. Well we did get a good northern comet this year in Panstarr’s (it was naked eye), and we have a christmas comet in Lovejoy 2013…I am not complaining….

  7. yes – great blog -(especially maps) at least we got to see it before perihelion…

  8. Comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS is supposed to get up to 5 mag next fall you could do a little blog about that next fall.

  9. Enjoyed your enthusiasm & updated comments for the last couple of months.. Maybe next time! Did get a few photos of the approach, not as good as the detailed images on-line though. Lets hope we get a decent Northern Comet soon, even if it isn’t going to be the Comet of the Century. Newbie Stargazer

  10. I only found your blog a couple of weeks ago, but have been hooked ever since. I’m gutted that we’re not now going to be seeing Ison sporting a spectacular tail or be able to read your words, or view stunning images from like-minded comet gazers. I had no idea that I would become so addicted to following the fate of a comet but your blog ensured that I did. For now I’m going to follow your updates on Lovejoy…and just hope that one day during my lifetime we’ll get another chance to witness a showstopper from somewhere in our universe.

  11. […] 48. https://waitingforison.wordpress.com/updates-december-2013-1/  [Latest Update of Ison Comet] [December 1, 1023] […]

  12. Thank you for writing this blog and thank you for keeping the nutters away , it will only be a matter of time.b4 they start on c/ 2013 a1, thank you for always giving me piece of mind xo

  13. Thanks for the effort. Your enthusiasm and generosity are refreshing. John H.

  14. I enjoyed your site and ISON – Yes Comet ISON is gone but know we did witness a great event. Thank you for all your hard work that is put on this site, you did very well.

  15. Good luck next time. Been a while since Hale-Bopp. Eventually we’ll get another Great Comet.

  16. I made this video as a tribute to comet ISON:

    Your blog has given me the opportunity to see my very first comet. As a huge fan of astronomy, I was looking forward to it. What a disappointment… Sun, why so cruel man?!
    Thanks for keeping me so hooked to one of the most would-be-awesome comets of this year!

  17. Fantastic website. Been following it slavishly for weeks along with CIOC. I forgive the nutters, since they enabled me to enjoy your responses to them. Thank you so much for all your hard work.

    • Gotta agree with this. Some of your comments to the nutters, have made me laugh so hard.
      As ive said before. Ive enjoyed these blogs since Panstarr’s. Just started looking at some of your other blogs.


  18. @phoenixpics

    OK OK OK. Your lamentatation over the demise of ISON is misplaced. Let us thank our stars that we did not have a show.

    If this bit of rock had decided to wow us to the extent that it was capable of phoenixpics, You would right now be hiding in a bunker somewhere.

    And your assertion that it dissappointed us is false om another level as well, as it implies that ISON had promised us in advance that it was going to provide us a spectacular show. She never did that. It was our own hype. The press TV and not excluding your imaginary images of million mile long tails and a huge coma lies at the root. ( pun unintended.). Expectations raised to feverish pitch are mostly destined to be fizzlers.

    We have none to blame except ourselves. ISON was what ISON was.

    Anyway thanks for a wonderful blog. I really enjoy it.


    • How many personalities do you have Azzy? You’ve wrongly slated Stu for “hoping” the comet has long tail; then you intimate that the comet was going to have a fit and go off-course towards our planet; and then you say what a wonderful blog this is.

      Which statement is the real you? You’ve got to have a split personality at the very least. I despair!

  19. Ashto! I fear you need a lesson in irony and humor and other delicate matters.
    I don’t know where to find those posts as I am a bit rusty with remembering things so I cannot give you precise answers with quotes from my posts. But I will clarify, if that works, by saying that I am not at all into believing/siding with the Anunaki/aliens/planetX crowd. Any impression to the contrary would be resullt of my ususal, and not too good, attempt at humor.

    Sorry to have confused you about my origins.


  20. But yes I might seem to have a bit of a split personalities. I find it useful to take on the role of the devil or be his advocate at times. It works wonders as far as doing an occassional reality check and does serve to bring out the weakness in his arguments too.
    If you go looking for me you will find me having beer with members of the Atheist Alliance, Sundays. That is where I belong.

  21. Hi Azzy

    “..having beer with members of the Atheist Alliance, Sundays.”

    Now, I do get that one! 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for your clarification. 😉

    Unfortunately for us, you seem to share my dry sense of humour, and you’re right, it is difficult to detect the jokes when you’re messages are mixed up with the many ‘not intended to funny’ comments from the Disney Dept. (Looney Tunes).

    Come to think of it, I haven’t read a comment from the nutters since ISON turned to powder. I have a feeling Stu will be presently fighting them off on his Comet Siding Spring blog.

    Mars is going to get hit by it (I don’t think it is) and the red planet will ricochet off the comet and be put on a new orbit and trajectory that will mean it heading straight for us.

    It seems we’re doomed again.


  22. (Rant mode is on) No You are so wwong Craig! The 632+1/2 aliens aboard the spaceship, referred to as ISON, jumped ship sailing around the Sun ( said ship having gone into invisible mode, not turned to dust) and are now on their way to planet Earth.

    Potus44 is in cahoots with them and they are here to fulfill his, and the Bilderbergs’ dream of world conquest.

    But yes! We are doomed.
    (Rant mode is off)

    Thanks for a friendly reply, Craig.


  23. Your blog was really awesome…………… enjoyd reading about ison and i was too ecstatic about it but unfortunately cant see it now. well cant we see little bit of ison also????

  24. funny,and I just upgraded from a 20da to a 60da just in time for the comet and puff its gone 😦

  25. I ordered a light pollution filter from Germany but it’s taking ages to come. I imagine Lovejoy too will have disappeared by the time it gets here 😦

    • If you’re using a digital SLR, try setting the white balance to Tungsten instead of Daylight. It acts like a light pollution filter 🙂

      • Excellent – now I need the anti-cloud filter too. Those appear to be sold out 😉

      • I’ve got cloud filters: Cumulus Nabulus filter, Cirrus filter, Fog filter, and a Mare’s Tail filter. I can’t tell if they work or not because when I use them the image through the lens always looks misted up or cloudy.

        Any ideas?

      • Cloud filters are no use for astrophotography at all, and won’t reduce the effects of light pollution as far as I know. The tungsten thing works tho. I swear by it.

      • Thanks for the tungsten setting tip Stu. Is this setting good for all astronomical viewing, or is just suited for use on particular types of celestial objects?

        I’ve got a Canon 600D camera, and I was hoping to get some shots of Lovejoy. Problem is, we haven’t had a clear sky in Stafford for the last week or more. 😦

        Actually. The day the clouds rolled in permanently, was the same day I received my new 20×80 Celestron binoculars. So the camera and the binocs, are both sitting there totally unused at the moment.

        Funny really. You don’t realise how bloody terrible the British weather is until you start a hobby like observing. Very frustrating.

      • What I do is take two pics, one set at daylight, one at tungsten, then see which looks the best. Basically I just mess about until something like appears on the viewscreen 🙂

  26. Congrats on the million!

    Yeah, well. If I knew which site has banned you, (you oh-so-threatening purveyor of facts-n-that, you), I’d have a peek and report back!

    Oh, and did you miss the end of the world, then? It soooo happened. The comet told me so. You must just have been distracted.

    • Haha… yeah, I missed that. I’d love to name and shame that forum, but I am not going to give its cowardly Admins any more exposure. They know who they are, and I know for a fact that the forum readers – many of whom are genuinely interested in science and don’t believe a word of the bollocks other people post there – know too, because I get hits and views from there every day, that shows up on my stats. No doubt the Admins are having a little chuckle to themselves, thinking they’re being clever, but banning someone who disagrees with them, and then allowing their members to refer/link to/quote from that person’s blog is pathetic at best and cowardly at worst. I’ll just let them get on with it.

  27. Sorry to see ISON has departed. I was waiting eagerly. Ah well, thanks for making it a fine experience all the same, I’ve enjoyed ISON without having seen it thanks to this blog. Congrats!

  28. Thank you very much for all yor efforts Stu. Even though ISON died mid flight we have one more possibility of noctilucent clouds that may occur as we pass through ISON’s old dust trail mid Jan.

    • This is going to sound stupid, but I need to ask: Do daytime equivalents of the form of noctilucent type clouds exist?

      Many years ago I remember looking through the fair weather cloud at mid-afternoon during a summer’s day. I was struck by what looked like white waves sheet lightening in what I must assume was the upper atmosphere. It was like waves of thin veiled cloud moving and waving, appearing and disappearing within seconds. All this was miles above the clouds and set against the dark blue sky of the thin upper atmosphere.

      I’ve never seen it before or since, but it was a very mystifying and awesome sight. Could it have been anything to do with the Aurora Borealis? I thought that was only visible during dark hours.

      I’m at a total loss, and clueless as to what I witnessed. Any ideas or answers appreciated.

      • Now that is weird….

        Better grab my Video Cam and get my UFO catching kit 😉

        Maybe it was the Aurora Borealis caused by a very strong solar flare!
        Or is it just the Ye Olde Cirrus Clouds?

      • Hi Mark

        In actual fact they did take on the appearance of thin wispy banks of high altitude cloud, but they were moving back and forth and growing and fading away. It looked like lightening because the clouds moved, grew, and faded, very quickly like sheet lightening does.

        Given the right conditions could solar activity be responsible? I’d lean to the possibility of some sort of aurora, but this was broad daylight in the late afternoon or early evening.

        Just like your grandparents with the diamond light phenomenon, this event sticks in my mind even though it was over 30 years ago.

        I have no doubt it was meteorological in nature, but what, I don’t know.

      • Sorry for not replying to your query earlier Ashto, but I’ve come up a complete blank trying to figure out what you saw.

  29. Mark,
    Are you sure the ISON is dead and destroyed?

    • Gone. It is an ex comet. Amateurs with big telescopes and kick ass gear have been searching for its remains, taking long exposure photos of the area of sky it should be in, but have seen nothing.

      • I accidentally stumbled across something about ison a few months ago and have been panic stricken since. Your blog has calmed me down some but I can’t help constantly googling ison to check its progress so have just seen a YouTube clip of someone analysing the stereo images after perihelion in which he zooms in and claims its still alive and easily 20km wide and headed straight for us- it was called something to do with Dec 16th. Would you mind watching it and reassuring me that he is wrong, with scientific evidence. I can’t wait for December to be over so I can stop worrying about this.

      • Rachel, please, trust me on this. That person is LYING and trying to scare you. ISON was only 1km wide to start with, so it can’t possibly be 20km wise now. That person is distorting pictures wickedly, and ignoring all the science. The only thing left of ISON is a cloud of dust, and grit, slowly spreading apart, coming nowhere near us anyway. We are totally safe. Ignore what this person says. Ok? 🙂

      • It’s got to be that American bloke with the deep South accent, who sits at his PC clicking away at zoomed images of ISON?

        I won’t give his site away here because it only adds to his popularity tally on Youtube hits, but suffice to say it’s in his interest to keep the hoax going for as long as possible.

        He does this by making out ISON is still with us, and probably getting closer. However, if you listen to the scientists and the guys who make the images of ISON you will soon discover that ISON is an ex-ISON and poses no harm at all.

        Worry not my dear. 🙂


      • Er, if you mean “J****” that’s actually a woman… but yeah, they all talk absolute rubbish and people fall for it. I have a particular soft spot for a ranting, raving Pastor who has been telling his Followers all about how ISON is The Apocolypse, Armageddon, going to kill us all!!! …but still encourages his followers to “support his work” by buying from his range of merchandise, including books, DVDs, mugs, etc. Shameless lying and hypocrisy.

      • Thanks for the reassurance. It is my lack of understanding about space and astronomy that makes me worry about everything I read. I have tried to stick to credible websites for information, but it is so confusing. One thing I can’t understand is why the 2012 sungrazing comet lovejoy was visible to astronomers right after perihelion even though it was smaller while it has been 15 days since ison’s perihelion and no-one has even been able to find any pieces of it, when it was bigger, so assuming would have to have chunks at least as big as comet lovejoy was as a whole. Also do comets have different speeds? From what I’ve read comet lovejoy appeared to come back past earth much sooner than ison’s predicted orbit would have seen it come back past earth if it had stayed intact.

  30. Phoenixpics! Why are you such a mortal enemy of a certain genre . They provide comic relief from the daily dose of bad news. The probability that someone might come to harm as a result of their humour is less than the probability of some virus sent by the Anunaki killing someone.
    Let the clowns and buffoons do their anticsthey they serve at the most to remind us how far to human gene needs to go before we are a galaxy class race.


    • Agreed azzy. 🙂

      If nowt else, it is entertaining to read how deranged some folk are. Okay, so I’m all for a healthy mild concern about what we’re to do should an Everest sized rock have our name on it.

      However, to obsess about something you have no control over whatsoever, serves no purpose. Religion will not save us so there’s no use ranting to say it will. It may save our souls but it certainly will not save nearly 7 billion inhabitants of this planet, should something terrible happen.

      I’m a Christian, but there are many devout and piously “religious” folk who are not. Their version of the truth is widely different to our Christian view. Who is to say our version of religion is truth, and theirs is not?

      Science is the quest for truth. Should a ELE happen in my lifetime, my interim god will be NASA, physicists, geologists, the armed forces of the world, and anyone with the money and clout to save us all from certain death.

      You have already given up on life and living if you simply turn to the Bible to save you/us instead.

      • Quote “I’m a Christian, but there are many devout and piously “religious” folk who are not. Their version of the truth is widely different to our Christian view. Who is to say our version of religion is truth, and theirs is not?” Unquote

        It takes a mature mind to take thak positionCraig.
        Living in an intolerant hell, I truly appreciate your words.

        Wish there was a like button somewhere here.


    • Well, I used to think their rantings were just “entertaining” too, just the harmless gabblings of drooling nutters, until I started writing this blog… then I started getting comments and emails from people who were either genuinely frightened about ISON and the Doom Mongerers’ messages of mass destruction and extinction, or someone in their family was, then it became rather less entertaining. Read back through the comments and you’ll see what I mean. Add to that the personal attacks and the use of obscenities which younger readers could come across, and “comic relief” they are not. There’s enough fear and ignorance of science in the world already, in day to day life, without these pillocks adding to it. We’re rapidly becoming a pitchfork-wielding scientist-hating society, full of people who can’t live without their iPhones, tablets, cheap air travel and widescreen TVs but don’t believe the words of the scientists who make their modern world possible. If I found a magic lamp today, and rubbing it summoned a genie, I would wish for all the blogs, websites, Twitter accounts and forums of the conspiracy theory brigade to be deleted irretrievably. It would leave the net, and the world, a much cleaner, safer place. Like hosing crap off the floor of a toilet.

  31. @ Phoenixpics.

    I think seriously that you are right and my frivolous statement is what it is.
    Frankly, I have seen the effect of a near relative fall victim to a similar disease, the moony loonies and it was a sad spectacle no doubt.


  32. I understood that ISON had petered out in late November, and now I’m finding that a month later people are still trying to keep this thing alive. CNN apparently posted an article on November 29th claiming that experts believe the comment surivived? LOL WHAT? – http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/29/us/ison-comet/

    Now I’m reading reports that recent meteors over the mid-west are ISON debris. When will these crackpots figure it out? WOW!

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