MicroObservatory catches Comet ISON

The comet recently brightened and is visible in the constellation Virgo.
By | Published: November 19, 2013 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Comet ISON imaged November 9 by Micro-Observatory
ISON will make a close approach to the Sun on November 28, and might become spectacularly bright in the days immediately following perihelion.
B. Mellin/MicroObservatory
Hopes are high for Comet ISON (C/2012 S1), which has the potential to become the most spectacular comet seen in years. ISON is speeding through the inner solar system at about 120,000 mph (193,000 km/h), on its way to a close approach to the Sun on November 28. Assuming it survives its close encounter, it could become easily visible to the unaided eye in dawn skies.

Comet ISON recently brightened and is currently visible with telescopes or binoculars in the constellation Virgo. Today, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is releasing new images of ISON obtained with the MicroObservatory robotic telescope system.

The image of ISON shows the comet moving against a background of stars. The comet displays a fuzzy round coma and a tail extending to upper right beyond the edge of the frame.

This photo was taken on the morning of Saturday, November 9, by Bruce Mellin using MicroObservatory’s “Donald” telescope in Arizona. The 650 by 500 pixel image shows an area of the sky 0.9° by 0.7° in size. (For comparison, the Full Moon is 0.5° across.)

MicroObservatory is a network of automated telescopes developed by CfA scientists and educators that can be controlled over the Internet. They were designed to enable students and teachers nationwide to investigate the wonders of the deep sky from their classrooms or after-school centers.