C/2012 S1 (ISON)
Sunday, Nov 3, 2013
This is the comet that many have been looking forward to for about a year now. So far, it appears that it will not live up to the big expectations of it. I still think it will be very bright, but only for a few days around perihelion. Most of that will be too close to the Sun to view. It will be a decent comet for a few weeks before and after.
This comet eluded me last Friday (Nov 1, 2013) and nearly eluded me again this morning (Nov 3rd). Despite sweeping the area with binos and my 16" scope at 61x, nothing was showing up. At some point in time, I noticed that the Zodiacal light was very prominent, and I realized that it may have been part of my problem. Dew then hit, and I was almost ready to pull the plug, and then realized that my 9mm eyepiece was in my pocket, warm and dry.
In went the 9mm and within two tries I had it, showing up nicely. Morning twilight was soon to begin and I rapidly drew the Field of View (FOV). After which, I popped in the 30mm eyepiece to see if it could still be seen. It was, but was practically a ghost, barely perceptible. The sky transparency was excellent, and the Eastern horizon was pretty good, fairly free of light pollution after 10-15 degrees up. I knew this comet should be easier to see than it was. I was surprised that the Zodiacal light was the problem. Luck pointed the way, and I should have tried higher magnification earlier, but it is so hard to sweep anything more than a very small area when doing so.
Wednesday Nov 13, 2013
Woke up a bit early and dressed quickly, then stopped at an unfinished development in North Wentzville to see if I could spot some comets before my workout. I had the 25x100's and was encouraged by reports on CloudyNights.com that others had seen it with 10x50's from dark sites. This "Orange Zone" location looks "across" the "white zone" of metro STL. Oh, and it was only 20 degF outside... My first effort was not rewarded, but a little more patience and the fuzzball showed up. First in just my averted vision, but soon I could hold it. Unlike Lovejoy (with almost classical condensation), this fuzzball was somewhat irregular in brightness, with little condensation to center. It was encouraging to have this comet finally be within the reach of binoculars.
Monday Nov 18, 2013
Same routine as last Wednesday (above). I could not initially spot ISON in my 10x50's. Pulled out the 25x100's and found the "small fuzzy star" right away, just below and to the left of Spica. As it was just one day after full moon, and since the comet was only about 20 degrees up in the East at 5:40AM, and the fact that I was hand-holding these heavy binos, I found it difficult to ascertain with certainty that I was seeing a short, dim, stubby tail. It was completely averted-vision, and tended to come and go, but seeing it was repeatable. After drawing, I then tried the 10x50's again. I noted that I could definitely "see" ISON in the smaller binos (with more than 2x the FOV), but now it appeared difficult to discern as anything more than a dim star thru all of the atmosphere at 10x and with this aperture.
Sunday Dec 1, 2013
After watching this comet closely on the LASCO C3 camera, it has evidently disintegrated into dust during its' very close passage with the Sun. This was a known risk for this sungrazer, which got within one solar diameter of the Sun. It was larger than last year's Lovejoy comet, but size isn't always the best determinant of survival. I am glad that I spotted in while inbound. Overall, it has been an overly-hyped comet that had potential. Meanwhile comet c/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) has been dominating. Not sure why so little media on it.
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