Find Comet ISON Nov. 22-25 With These New Daily Maps

Map 1: Comet ISON on Friday morning Nov. 22 about 55 minutes before sunrise facing southeast as seen from mid-northern latitudes. Click to enlarge. All maps: Stellarium

To further help you in finding Comet ISON before it gets too close to the sun to see, I’ve prepared four maps, one for each morning Nov. 22-25. Previous maps I’ve made show the comet’s position about one hour before sunrise for mid-northern latitudes, but because ISON is may now bright enough to be seen in mid-twilight, I’ve advanced the time to just 55 minutes before sunrise.

Map 2: Comet ISON on Saturday morning Nov. 23. Click to enlarge.

Arcturus, Spica, the planets Mercury and Saturn and of course the horizon itself will be your guides to finding ISON. One of the main reasons for making separate daily maps has to do with the ever-changing positions of the Mercury and Saturn near the horizon. Add in ISON and you’ve got three bodies shifting around at the same time. Trying to show all three at once over a span of time can get confusing. Individual maps recognize the unique celestial arrangement for that particular day.

Map 3: Comet ISON on Sunday morning Nov. 24. Click to enlarge.

If you are going out to find the comet, you’ll need clear skies and a view as close to the southeastern horizon as possible. Start looking with binoculars a full hour and a quarter before sunrise, so you can anticipate its rising. Have at it and good luck!

Map 4: Comet ISON on Monday morning Nov. 25. Getting low! Also notice that Mercury and Saturn will be in conjunction. Click to enlarge.

25 Responses

  1. Norman Sanker

    Hey Bob,

    Aren’t we just about due for some of those Messenger images of ISON and Encke from the 18th and 19th? Is NASA dragging its feet?

    Norman Sanker

      1. Norman Sanker

        Hey Bob,

        I did see those pictures but all are from before the close flybys on the 18th and 19th. Encke passed very close to Messenger on the 18th–should be some good science from that. Later.

        Norman Sanker

    1. astrobob

      The “flipping” of the sun’s magnetic poles (not physically poles) is a routine, cyclic event and will have little if any effect on the comet. Much more likely to effect it would be a large coronal mass ejection (these are also routine) in its direction. Large bursts of solar plasma can sometimes snap off comet tails, which then re-grow.

    1. astrobob

      AZ Brad,
      No, we can keep our bottoms. It may look like that in the simulator only because of scale. ISON won’t get any closer than 42 million miles from Earth, not even close.

  2. mike

    Even if we don’t have to worry about a comet impact, is there a reasonable chance of any noticeable meteor showers due to tail or other debris?

    1. astrobob

      Earth might pass through some very fine, small debris I think sometime in Jan. but it would not be substantial enough to trigger a naked eye meteor shower.

  3. Big goose egg this morning (24 Nov) in Northern Virginia, Woodbridge to be exact. I was on the west bank of the Potomac River with a pretty good view down to the horizon. I had a great view of Mercury and Saturn as well as Spica, so knew precisely where to look/expect ISON. Nothing. Goose egg. Zip. Nada. ISON is on its way around the sun, I guess. Hopefully, if it stays in one piece, we’ll catch it on the flip side.

    1. astrobob

      Thanks Bill for sharing your attempt at finding ISON. My experience was similar to yours a day earlier on the 23rd. Watch for the comet to show up in sharp resolution in SOHO images starting Nov. 27.

    1. astrobob

      Wow, nice stuff Bill. I like the plane and moon, and the eclipse pix are sweet! Who says you can’t get a great photo with all those clouds in the way.

  4. Tony Gouge

    I gave it a shot this AM in Aiken, SC, but had no luck. We had thin, but low, clouds on the horizon, so that didn’t help either.

  5. Sean

    i had absolutely no clouds and a rather low view but still no luck. i hadn’t remembered the map 100% correctly so i was looking closer to zubeneschamali than i should have been, but if it had been bright enough i probably would have caught it scanning regardless. nice to see Saturn tho (waited till i could see it naked-eye b4 pulling out the binos to look for ISON) as this was my 1st sighting of it this apparition.

  6. Sanford Cohen

    Sun morn had a great field of view and a clear sky. Saturn and Mercury very bright with the naked eye. No trace of ISON, even with high power binocs. Gave up at high twilight and got some bagels.
    Will try again this morn for the conjunction.

  7. CK north of Baltimore

    My husband and I ventured out into the cold around 5:45 am with astro binoculars in hand. Headed south in search of an unobstructed view of the horizon through the trees and settled on a spot on a low ridge overlooking an expanse of farmland. One stubborn tree way off in the distance was likely the snag in our failed attempt. Located the Arcturus/Spica-Mercury/Saturn configuration without a problem but saw no trace of ISON. Guessing the window of opportunity is just too small right now unless you have an excellent view of the horizon at land’s end. It’s my birthday today. Would have considered a glimpse of ISON the perfect gift. Still hopeful that it survives its trip around the sun and comes out the other side intact and with fire in its belly.

    1. astrobob

      Dear CK,
      Happy Birthday! Wish you could have seen the comet but today was a very challenging one for spotting it, that’s for sure.

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