Morning show: four comets in the sky (with maps and images)

Now that the moon finally made way, the stage is set for a rare show in the morning sky: four (fairly) bright comets together in the same celestial area. All of them are visible with small telescopes and binoculars, at least under dark skies. There is even a first report of one of them being spotted naked-eye by an experienced observer. To help finding them over the next nights, I prepared some maps and share some recently made images.

Four comets in the pre-dawn sky: Symbols indicate their positions on Nov. 2, arrows their movement in the coming days. (calculated for 51°N. graphic relized with Stellarium)
Comet C/2012 S1 ISON was already featured twice in this blog, it is still looking healthy, despite predictions of it's disintegration, which seem not to have met by reality. It's reported to be around 9mag now, with a coma diameter of about 5' and a 0,3-0,5° tail. Yesterday, a friend (an experienced deep sky observer) reported he clearly spotted ISON with his 7x50 binoculars unter dark skies. There are similar reports coming in, so it's safe to say ISON has now become a binocular comet. ISON is currently moving eastward along the Ecliptic crossing constellations from Leo to Virgo.

Paths of comets C/2012 S1 ISON and 2P/Encke, Graphic realized with Cartes du Ciel.
Using a 8" f/4 Newtonian and a Canon EOS 450D DSLR camera, I imaged ISON on the morning of Oct. 30 (17 x 2min-exposures @1600 ASA, Astronomic CLS-filter):

Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy is even more impressive. There is a naked-eye observation report dated Nov 1. The comet is crossing the constellation Cancer and is reported to be around 7-8mag, with a coma diameter of around 15' and a 0,5° tail, which is barely visible in my image of Oct. 31:

Path of comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy, Graphic realized with Cartes du Ciel.
Comet 2/Encke shows a very green colour on images, it's brighness is about 7,5mag, with a 10' coma and no visible tail (at least not an my DSLR images). It is moving through Virgo and is currently lowest in the pre-dawn sky at 05:00 UTC.

Finally, suprising outburst comet C/2012 X1 LINEAR made an unexpected member of the "club of fairly bright morning comets", with it's brighness reported to be around 8mag and a coma diameter of 8'. It is the only comet I have missed so far. LINEAR is moving from Coma Berenices to Bootes during the next days and is still a little hard to observe in the pre-dawn sky. LINEAR still has it's perihelion ahead (in Feb. 2014), so lets see if there are more surprises awaiting.

Path of comet C/2012 X1 LINEAR, Graphic realized with Cartes du Ciel.
Since I have no own image of LINEAR so far, I conclude with another shot of ISON. In fact, it is the same one as above, but stacked on the stars. This way one can see the comet's movement within 30 minutes. The small strike next to ISON is asteroid (59) Aemilia, which happened to be in the same section of the sky by accident:


  1. Thanks for the information I will try to see them however here there some a lot of clouds...

  2. You're welcome, hope the clouds will go away. In fact, I had only five usable nights in October. This *has* to get better in December, when ISON reaches maximum brightness...