Comet ISON Update

Comet ISON appears to have dissipated, along with prospects for a postperihelion sight.

December 13, 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 was a mere ghost of a comet. Gone are any prospects for a predawn binocular or telescope sight. ISON is simply no more.

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, Comet ISON is now history for visual observers.  You can read SkyNews editor Terence Dickinson’s take on events here.  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
Comet ISON
Went the way of the Bison,
When, around the Sun it turned,
It got burned.


U.K. imager Damian Peach recorded this view of Comet ISON on November 15. Arguably, it is the finest image of the comet.

As always, if you have any observations to report or photos to share, please e-mail them to us at

Categories: Comet ISON, Comets and Asteroids
12 comments on “Comet ISON Update
  1. Chris says:

    Question – on Nov. 15th the article states that the comet rises at 4 am. Which time zone is that??

    • Gary says:

      Hi Chris:

      Good question. The answer is that it doesn’t matter — it’s local time and works for all time zones.

  2. Harold says:

    Question: in the video above it shows comet ISON going towards the sun and going around, why doesn’t it just go straight on by? And does all comets act this way when going towards the sun? Thanks

  3. Gerhard Salhenegger says:

    Damian Peach’s photo of ISON is beautiful. I showed it to my wife. She said it is the best picture ever she has seen of a comet.

  4. ashley says:

    Im kinda scared of this kind of stuff…will this effect earth or hurt us??

    • Gary says:

      In spite of their impressive appearances, Comets are mostly quite small (a dozen or two kilometres across) and harmless. ISON poses absolutely no threat since it will not be close to Earth at any point in its orbit. There was a great deal of fear in 1910 when Earth actually passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet, but the only result was a spectacular view of the comet. For a list of the closest cometary approaches throughout history, visit here: To summarize: relax, and enjoy the show.

  5. Really appreciate the updates and summaries, Gary. Looking forward to the coming weeks.

  6. Nick says:

    I would love to see the January 14th (?) meteor shower that could materialize from the debree left behind on it’s way in.

    Comet Ison lives on!

    • Gary says:

      Unfortunately, the Moon is going to be nearly full around then, so I wouldn’t count on seeing anything, that is if there’s anything to be seen in the first place. Would love to be wrong though!

  7. Carol S. says:

    Thanks very much for the great coverage of Comet ISON; your video here of the SOHO recording of the fly-by is much more complete and informative than on other sites. I also appreciate the sky chart of where to look for the comet’s remnant; I can reach some dark-sky areas easily to have a look on the morning of the 1st and 2nd.

  8. Rose-Marie Burke says:

    The only consolation is…according to weather predictions, we’re going to get clouds, clouds, flurries/rain/thick clouds for the next week. So…if it had become spectacular, I wouldn’t have been able to see it anyway, I would have just been gnashing my teeth in frustration!

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