Sky Spy: Dramatic Comet ISON should be visible

2013-11-07T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T11:44:55Z Sky Spy: Dramatic Comet ISON should be visibleBy Tim Hunter Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A potentially bright comet will be visible  in November and December.

Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok found the comet in images taken by the International Scientific Optical Network’s (ISON) 0.4-meter (16-inch) telescope near Kislovodsk, Russia, in September 2012.

Comet ISON (C/2012) will swing close to the sun at the end of this month and should be visible in the pre-dawn sky in December. This comet is predicted to be  dramatic, but comets are unpredictable.

David Levy,  author and comet discoverer, says, “Comets are like cats; they have tails and do whatever they want.” Stay tuned for more information about the comet.

Tonight the sun sets at 5:28. Let the sky darken for a while and look toward the southwest at 6:30 p.m. to see ever brilliant Venus 15 degrees above the horizon. Venus is in the middle of the Milky Way and  sits just above the spout of the “teapot” of Sagittarius the Archer.

The five-day-old moon will be somewhat above the handle of the “teapot.” The bright moon and the low position of these objects means the Milky Way hardly will be visible, but this area will be quite beautiful if scanned with low-power binoculars.

If you are up early before sunrise (6:47 a.m.) Friday, you can see Canis Major the Greater Dog with its bright star Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, in the southwest along with Orion the Hunter above and to the right (west) of Canis Major.

Even higher up from the southern horizon is bright Jupiter in Gemini the Twins, a good way to finish off a night’s viewing.

Contact Tim Hunter at

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