Faulkes Telescope Observations

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) on 2012 December 7th. Image obtained using the Faulkes Telescope North, operated by Las Cumbres Observatory.

This image was obtained by Gillian Harte, Chris McClure, David Morris and Jamie Robinson controlling the 2-metre Faulkes Telescope North via the Web from Armagh Observatory, courtesy of the Faulkes Telescope Project and Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network.

The comet (at the centre) looks more diffuse than the surrounding stars. But at that time more distant than the orbit of Jupiter, it has not become very bright yet (compare C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) which was already looking quite impressive when seen through Faulkes in August).

Both C/2011 L4 and C/2012 S1 are expected to become notable sky objects in 2013, with the latter likely to be the more spectacular of the two eventually. Nevertheless, predicting cometary brightnesses is difficult. Only after seeing the extent to which Comet ISON's brightness increases over the next several months will we start to have an idea whether it will be one of the great comets of the century, or not.

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) will be closest to the sun, both in space and as seen in the sky, on 2013 November 28th, and will additionally be at its brightest around then. In the days leading up to this date, the comet will approach the sun from the west, as seen in the sky (observable just before sunrise, whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere). In the days following, it will move north of the sun (observable just before sunrise or just after sunset, if you live in the north).


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Last Revised: 2012 December 17th