I tried again this morning to see Comet ISON. Had there been a spotless eastern horizon it might have yielded to my 10×50 binoculars. But as often happens, a little bit of cloud hid the bottom two degrees of sky, so I had to wait till Mercury, Saturn and the hoped-for comet rose into the clear. I looked and looked between 6:10 and 6:35 a.m. at where ISON should have been but saw nothing. Saturn and Mercury were obvious but all else was starless blue where the comet should have been.
Just in case, I took a few photos of the area. We all know the camera sometimes sees more than the eye, but squinting at the LCD display in the warm comfort of home I still can’t see anything. Comet ISON is simply not bright enough now to compete with twilight. Ardent amateurs under exceptional skies may still be able to image the comet the next day or two using motorized tracking cameras and telescopes. You and I? We’re probably up the creek for now.
But hold on tight. After perihelion on Nov. 28, ISON will hopefully return in full regalia with brilliant head and sweeping tail. Use this time to catch up on your sleep – if Act II rises to expectations, we’ll be zombies by Christmas.
Just in case you still want to try sighting ISON, here are maps to use through Nov. 25.