Comet ISON lives! OK, it might be on life support, but the comet written off as dead a week ago still glows in recent photos taken by the STEREO-A cameras. While no one’s seen it from the ground yet, we’re getting close to that opportunity.
This Saturday Dec. 7 the comet will appear very low in the southeastern sky for a brief period just before the start of morning twilight. I doubt anyone will see it with their eyeballs but intrepid astrophotographers are eager to photograph it.
Based on these photos, the latest I could find, ISON shines about as brightly as the nebulosity in and around the Pleiades star cluster. Not bright by any stretch, small telescopes will still show the brightest parts of the cluster’s cocoon-like nebula from a dark sky. That’s my educated guess on the comet’s potential visibility. Hopefully we’ll see photos and magnitude estimates from the ground very soon.
UPDATE Dec. 5: Latest hi-res STEREO-A photo shows ISON barely there.
One comet remains bright – Lovejoy. It’s traveling through the constellation Bootes in the wee hours before dawn and can still be viewed in binoculars. Click HERE for a finder map.