RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Even though NASA isn’t sending us updates on Comet ISON during the government shutdown, amateur astronomers are continuing their work for the public! In backyards and open spaces around the world, folks are peering through their telescopes to spot the approaching comet, snapping pictures for us to enjoy.
If you have a telescope and want to find Comet ISON, look east before dawn for the “double star” of Mars (red planet) and Regulus (the blue-white star). They rise about three hours before the sun, forming a bright pair separated by one degree.
Martin Gembec photographed the duo for Spaceweather.com from the Czech Republic before daybreak on Oct. 14th. To find Comet ISON, look above Mars for the bluish tail in this the full-sized image.
On Thanksgiving (November 28), Comet ISON could be easy to spot with the naked eye. This is when the comet is expected to fly through the Sun’s atmosphere.
As of this posting, the comet is still too far away (near Mars) and faint to see without telescope magnification.
Spaceweather.com suggests that if you have a GOTO telescope, enter these coordinates, or just find the “double star” and draw a line between Regulus and Mars. It leads to ISON. This is what the sky map looked like on Oct. 15.