Comet ISON & Mars (Oct 8, 2013)
Comet ISON and Mars on October 8. (Alan Dyer)

Comet ISON Observing Report

Alan Dyer photographs Comet ISON on October 8, on a cloud-free morning.

I checked every morning for a few days up to this, but there was always cloud lingering in the east. So back to bed! But the morning of October 8 was great. From where I live in southern Alberta I have a very clear and dark eastern horizon on the prairies. As an illustration of that witness the zodiacal light image (below), which I shot that same morning after shooting ISON just as the sky was beginning to brighten with dawn. I shot that image with a 14mm ultra-wide angle lens and an iOptron SkyTracker. In it you can see where Mars and Leo were in my sky, embedded in the “light pollution” of the zodiacal light.

Comet ISON and Mars as imaged by Alan Dyer on October 8.
Comet ISON and Mars on October 8. Mars is the conspicuous bright object at the bottom of the frame, while the comet is a faint blip above Mars, near the top of the image. (Alan Dyer)

The ISON shot (above) is a stack of five 5-minute exposures with a TMB 92mm apo refractor at f/4.8 and a Canon 5D MkII at ISO 1600. The comet is just a blip but definitely a cyan-tinted comet with a tail, not just a fuzzball! I plan to be in New Mexico for the post-perihelion period where December skies are likely to be clearer than from Canada, gambling on a great show once ISON comes out from behind the Sun.

October 8th Zodiacal light by Alan Dyer.
Zodiacal light along with Jupiter and Mars (and Comet ISON). (Alan Dyer)