Comet ISON appears to have dissipated, along with prospects for a postperihelion sight.
December 4, 2013: As the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) video below shows pretty clearly, whatever part of Comet ISON that reemerged from behind the Sun after perihelion (the comet’s closest approach to the Sun) on November 28, is now a mere ghost of a comet. Gone are any prospects for a predawn binocular or telescope sight. ISON is essentially invisible, though it is possible that highly skilled imagers may be able record something of the comet’s remains.
Here’s the video I made showing Comet ISON’s close approach to the Sun. The individual images are from the SOHO satellite’s LASCO C3 instrument and run from 0:41 Universal time (UT), November 27, to 16:06 UT, December 1, when the comet exits the field of view of the satellite’s cameras.
Although there is much science yet to be done, for visual observers Comet ISON is now history. You can read SkyNews editor Terence Dickinson’s take on events here.
The finder chart above is essentially only for reference purposes at this point. Even though ISON didn’t pan out, we’re not entirely out of luck. As SkyNews associate editor Alan Dyer remarked, “I will make do with Comet Lovejoy as a consolation prize.”
The final word on ISON goes to the poetically inclined Vancouver, British Columbia, observer Lee Johnson, who writes:
Lament for a Comet
Went the way of the Bison,
When, around the Sun it turned,
It got burned.
As always, if you have any observations to report or photos to share, please e-mail them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.