December 13, 2013: As the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) video below shows pretty clearly, whatever part of Comet ISON that reemerged from behind the Sun after perihelion (the comet’s closest approach to the Sun) on November 28 was a mere ghost of a comet. Gone are any prospects for a predawn binocular or telescope sight. ISON is simply no more.
Here’s the video I made showing Comet ISON’s close approach to the Sun. The individual images are from the SOHO satellite’s LASCO C3 instrument and run from 0:41 Universal time (UT), November 27, to 16:06 UT, December 1, when the comet exits the field of view of the satellite’s cameras.
Although there is much science yet to be done, Comet ISON is now history for visual observers. You can read SkyNews editor Terence Dickinson’s take on events here. Even though ISON didn’t pan out, we’re not entirely out of luck. As SkyNews associate editor Alan Dyer remarked, “I will make do with Comet Lovejoy as a consolation prize.”
The final word on ISON goes to the poetically inclined Vancouver, British Columbia, observer Lee Johnson, who writes:
Lament for a Comet
Went the way of the Bison,
When, around the Sun it turned,
It got burned.