Sunday, 22 December 2013

20131221 - ISON Not Found + the start of a theory

Over the past few days two famous telescopes have been looking for C/2012 S1 ISON.

The Arecibo (the world's largest Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico) reported yesterday that they had found nothing. 

The Hubble Telescope reported late yesterday that they had found no trace of it. Here is a link to their results.

There may be a few bits around, but they would be less than 150 meters in size.

So there is no need to throw any life rafts, Just wreaths :( 

Why and when ISON started to break up is now the question that is being asked and various theories, which need to be tested, are being put forward. My personal theory - unproven - is that sometime in the lead up to the 13th November (perhaps a day or two before) the nucleus of the comet started to become unstable, whether a chunk broke away or it started to crack I do not know. The visible effect is shown in this image that SON@OSC took on the morning of the 13th November. If you look a third of the way along the lower tail you can see a discontinuation. +Padma Yanamandra-Fisher  picked up on this event as soon as she saw the image.

Over the next few days the comet physically changes as can be seen in the following image from the morning of the 15th .

The following day, the 16th, it seems calm down a bit (through cloud).

Morning of the 19th through thin cloud again!

The next event was noticed on the morning of the 22nd. +Charles Bell  pointed this out to me. towards the end of the displayed lower tail there is a branch off - looks like half a feather on an arrow. I think that a day or two before there was another major fracture to the nucleus.

This was the last time I saw ISON . I think by this time the nucleus was fatally flawed and came apart during its near encounter with our Sun.

It is important to recognise that the images of ISON represent only part of the history of the comet. They are, of course, an important resource, especially if and when other images can be added to the time line. I still have a number of images to process and perhaps some of those will add to the story.

Other data now needs to be brought together and analysed. A lot, but not all, of this data has either been captured by amateurs or is in the public domain. A number of amateurs have already started modelling this data, some of which at first glance supports my idea. Until I fully understand this data (and other data), myself I will not present it and only then with permission.

I will be looking to see what the professionals come up with. One thing about of astronomy is that there is always something new to learn.


After a cloudy night, this morning I managed to finds some holes in the clouds and brought the cameras into focus and at dawn take some flats.

Late afternoon we struggled up the observatory hill with the framework for the new roll off observatory to house the new telescope.

This evening is cloudy again :( which was disappointing as Search Light Observatory Network had received a request to record a stellar occultation which would been taking place now. Alas the observatory hill is covered with a damp cloud.

Friday, 20 December 2013

20131220 - All change in the Observatory

As I mentioned in the previous Blog it is time for exoplanets again.

What is an exoplanet (or extrasolar planet)? It is a planet that is in an orbit around a star other than our own Sun :)

I received a few days ago, along with the other Searchlight Observatory Network Observatories, the agreed list of targets and time table from Professor +Svetlana Berdyugina at Kiepenheuer-Institut für Sonnenphysik .

Svetlana has been observing exoplanets for a number of years. It was Svetlana and her team that discovered, a number of years ago, that a planet (HD 189733b) in orbit around HD 189733 is blue. This was later confirmed this year by Hubble observations.

There are a number of different ways to discover and monitor exoplanets. The current project involves known exoplanets using a technique called Exoplanet Transits. This only works with systems that are near to edge on to us. The observation process involves measuring the change in brightness of the host star when an explanet passes in front of it. The techniques involved are similar to those used for variable star observing. I will write, in the near future, a number of Blogs covering the various methods of discovering and monitoring exoplanets :).

Ideally I should have changed the telescope configuration and started some test runs a few days ago, but after a few months of overall good observing nights the weather changed. We have had clouds, we have icy rain and lots of interuptions with the power.

Yesterday's driving rain stopped me from opening the observatory so with the alarm set early I went up to the observatory to check it out. Apart from a few small wet spots and the need to reset the power everything was OK. It was still fairly cloudy but with holes so I managed to see some stars for the first time in days. It was not suitable for imaging properly but decided to take some images of Comet Lovejoy before changing the configuration.

After these were taken it was time to start to change the configuration.

For the past couple of months the ST8 CCD Camera along with its filter wheel has been on the 4" F4 Pentax refractor and the ST7 CCD Camera was on the C14 F11 SCT.

I now needed to swap the cameras over and also reduce the focal length of the C14 by putting in a focal reducer and once done rebalance the telescope and check that the cable will not get tangled up, (four power cables and four data cables!).

That is the easy bit done! The sky or should I say the clouds stopped most other things being done until this evening and daybreak - providing that it is clear.  So hopefully I will be able to refocus the two telescopes and take new sets of dark, flat and bias frames.

N.B. For none astronomers I promise to do a Blog posting in the next few days explaining the reasons why I needed to change the configuration and what are the effects.

There are a number of jobs I can do during the day, some of which are already under way, including producing an observing timetable.

It is now starting to get dark. There are thick clouds on the horizon and thin cloud overhead. Providing the cloud overhead does not get much thicker I will be able to finalise the configuration, otherwise it will be the case of getting up at four in the morning to check if the cloud has gone and if it has to do the finalisation then.

As there will not be much to show image wise with exoplanets, I will be showing images of various objects that I have yet to process, or will be able to take when exoplanet observing is not taking place.

Other work in progress

I am in the middle of getting another observatory up and running. I have building a roll off structure for it and late afternoon we got it up to the observing area ready for cladding. Pictures tomorrow.

The other day

I mentioned in the previous Blog that a drop in power stopped the telescope mount from working for an hour or so. What I did not mention was that the computer and cameras did not stop.

The following image was taken at ten o'clock at night with just moonlight. It will give you an idea of the power of the telescope (4" refractor) and a time controlled CCD camera :) The distance to the buildings is about three miles.

Monday, 16 December 2013

20131216 - ISON - Search and Rescue appears to have failed.

For the past few weeks, very much like when a yacht has been reporting missing, search and rescue have been out looking for this comet in distress.

At the beginning dozens, if not hundreds, of telescopes and binoculars swept the area of sky where the deathly remains of ISON hopefully could be found - but only if the remains were either large or dense enough to be seen.

There were a number of potential sightings by very experienced observers, though these potential sightings were always accompanied with health warnings. There was even a "sighting" report being circulated where someone had misunderstood the date format of a report which was of an earlier observation of the comet.

Everyone of these sightings needed to be followed up .... just in case someone has actually found the wreckage. Like most, I prefer for observers to post potential sightings, than for them to be sat on because of a concern of being wrong. There is always the danger though that they will get picked up by the media and misinterpreted - as is often the case, but we should never allow that to stop us making reports.

One of the good things about amateur observations are that they are distributed as soon as possible. Amateurs know that by putting out these possible sightings they may be able to be confirmed by someone in another Time Zone, before the object(s) have completely left, or are in the vicinity of that field of view.

Soon I expect the obituaries will start to be published telling us as much as possible about the life and death of ISON with the coroners verdict of Lost at Sea - sorry Lost in Space. As with all celebrities, much more will be written and published as more facts are discovered about ISON's life.

We only got to know her in her final years of life and know little of her childhood spent somewhere in the little know Oort cloud.  Someday in the distant future a little of what remains may arrive back at her original home.


I suspect that on posting this, within a day or two there will be more reports of seeing it, but as in real life there will be less suitable resources available to check.

From now on my time will be split, with Exoplanet Transits taking priority, but there will still be plenty of time for comets and other objects :) . This means that future Blogs will cover more subjects, including progress on a new SON observatory.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

20131211 - A catch up on comet images

As I mentioned in the last post, the reaon for lack of entries it is not that nothing has been happening, but the reverse!

A comment to the previous post exclaimed surprise at the time that processing the images take.

Let us go through a simple outline processing the comet images that I now follow. I will cover an observing run another time.

OK then, I have finished and observing run and closed down the observatory. What next?

On the computer there may be as many as 500+ images from the observing run all held in a directory named after the evening before's date in reverse order. Today is the 11th December 2013, so the observing run that could have started yesterday evening and finished at daybreak today so the directory would be named 20131210.

I then create a number of subdirectories named after the objects I have imaged. Where I have imaged the same object in two different ways then I create two subdirectories. Into these subdirectories I copy the various groups of files. There could be up to a hundred or more image files in each subdirectory.

The images in each of the subdirectories need to be reduced (or calibrated). Data reduction This is to take out inconsistencies. If you want to read more about it here is a link that explains the basics. The reduced files are put into a subdirectory - we do not overwrite the original files as we need to keep these.

After this has been done what happens next depends on what type of observations have taken place on different classifications of objects.

I will now describe what I do for single framed images of comets. My starting point is a folder of reduced images of a comet. There maybe 100 images and at a quick glance you would think that they are all the same, but there are not. A comet is moving against the background of stars. If we looked at each of the images carefully you would note the comet, especially as it gets nearer to the Sun will be in a slightly different position against the stars.

We are interested in the comet - not the stars. Let us say that each of the images is a 10 seconds exposure. We have a hundred and we need to overlay each of the images so that the comet overlays itself and not the stars. A number of programmes can do this, but I have not found one better than Astrometrica . Not only can it stack the comets - called Stack and Track the programme can many other things including astrometery and photometry (where is it and how bright is it).

This exercise leaves me with a single combined image that I can save and its brightness (magnitude).

I can now load this image into another programme and prepare it for submission.

At the moment some of the images are shown here, sent to the British Astronomical Association, shown in a few Facebook groups including Comet Watch and CIOC_ISON and also shortly to the University College London.

We do not delete any of the observations because you do not know when they may be of use. A good example is the UCL where I will be going back in time to find images that meet their needs.  

Here then is a gallery of some of the images taken since the last images until the 7th December:

SON@OSC (Searchlight Observatory Network at the Observatorio Sierra Contraviesa, Granada, Spain)
Observers Tony Angel and Caisey Harlingten
4" F4 Refractor ST8 Clear bin 1x1
FOV 115.5 x 77.7 arcmin
North at top

C/2013 R1 - Lovejoy - 2nd December

C/2013 R1 - Lovejoy - 2nd December
5th December

C/2013 R1 Lovejoy - 5th December

C/2012 R1 Lovejoy - 5th December
6th December

C/2012 R1 Lovejoy - 6th December

C/2012 R1 Lovejoy - 6th December
7th December

C/2012 R1 Lovejoy - 7th December

C/2012 R1 Lovejoy - 7th December

C/2012 X1 Linear - 7th December

C/2012 X1 Linear - 7th December

C/2013 V3 Nevski - 7th December

C/2013 V3 Nevski - 7th December

Monday, 9 December 2013

20131208 - A little something to be going on with

It is not the case that I have had nothing to write about, quite the reverse. I have been observing away :) with a couple of skipped observing periods. Every observing session is generating a good eight hours of processing etc to be fed to the CIOC_ISON group - which has now extended into other comets, +Neil Norman's Comet Watch group and also to be prepared for Geraint Jone's project at UCL. I do promise to post many of the images here of a number of comets - both large and small - in the next day or two.

Last Friday a Comet ISON Followup Meeting took place in the USA. The group I belong to CIOC_ISON was represented by +Padma Yanamandra-Fisher  and Elizabeth Warner who each gave a good talk about the work the group had been doing and especially about the good cooperation between the amateurs and professionals.

This was part of the NASA Comet ISON Observing Campaign.

I was lucky to be mentioned a few times during Padma's talk and one of my images shown. It was very good - Padma's talk I mean and I felt quite chuffed with my involvement through the Searchlight Observatory Network Observatory.

The talk was streamed and recorded so it is possible to visit the site and select the video. Elizabeth and Padma were first on in the second part - Comet ISON Follow-up 2 of 2 the whole set of videos are available here . Geraint Jones of UCL also gave one of the talks. I will be submitting a number of our images for his Comet Tail Project.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

2nd December morning - Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy and C/2013 V3 Nevski and a little on ISON

After nearly a week of cloudy skies I had a good observing run yesterday morning :)

I first went to Comet Lovejoy. I was using the wide field 4" F4 Refractor along with an ST8 CCD Camera. This comet is getting better, brighter and clearer each time I observe it. It was discovered by Terry Lovejoy in Australia, this is his 2nd Christmas Comet and I will say more about him in another post. He is most certainly an astronomer's astronomer. It is visible to the naked eye and well worth looking for.

I had decided that I wanted to image the whole of the comet, which because of its length meant that I would have to take a series of images, starting with its head and working along the tail.

I took them between UT 2013-12-02 5:00:34.063   and  2013-12-02T05:14:50.329 . Each image has an FOV of FOV 116.5 x 77.7 arcmins - north is on the left! You really need to click on the image to see it better!

I took seven images.each 1 minute exposure - no binning - and overlaid them.

Using simple trig the comet as displayed is a touch over 5 degrees in length. It was not until I processed the images that I realised that I had not captured the full length of the tale. I was not able to do a retake this morning, so fingers crossed for tomorrow, but it will need this evening's winds to drop. :( If it is clear then I will do x2 binning but keep the exposure time to 1 minute. That will bring out the furthest parts of the tail. As this will produce smaller images it will make it easier to create the overall image. The comet is moving against the back drop of stars, so I have to move onto taking the next image directly after the previous one, (partially guessing I am moving the right way :) ). so that there is no perceptible change.

As well as the above image I took a series of shorter exposures of the comet head. These exposures are between half a second and ten seconds. I also took a colour image as well. These are still to be processed. I used a series of the shorter images with Astrometrica by Herbert Raab to get a N Magnitude of 8.8

The next comet I images was C/2013 V3 Nevski. It is quite recently discovered - 6th November - by Vitali Nevsky using an 8" F1,5 reflecting telescope. Vitali is no stranger to discovering comets. He, along with Artyom Novichonok, discovered Comet C/2012 S1 ISON.  When discovered it was magnitude 15.1. Fellow CIOC_ISON member +Charles Bell  imaged it on the 14th November and its N Magnitude was 15.6. There had been reports that it had brightened to about magnitude 10 however when I imaged it yesterday morning the N  magnitude was 14.7.

Here is my image taken UT 2013-12-02 5:58:27.454 - FOV 116.5 x 77.7 arcmins - north is at the top. The comet is to the right of centre. It is still quite small, though a short tail has been observed.

I then took a few of Comet Linear and I will put these on next time. After Linear I did try for a couple of others, but my processing has not yet brought them out. They were a bit fainter.

To complete the observing run I finally I went to the the Eastern Horizon to see if I could capture the poor remains of C/2012 S1 ISON, but it was too bright - the sky that is, not ISON. If the weather is OK I will trying tomorrow morning.  Is there anything to see? We just do not know yet.

Before I finish for the night I must mention a particular hang out that you may wish to look at. It is the Comet Festival South Bend Today I watched yesterdays and today's editions. They have good astronomers on there and today's edition - hosted by +Chuck Bueter had +Pamela Gay , +Karl Battams and CIOC_ISON's +Padma Yanamandra-Fisher  (heck I hope I have the links right - if I have not - sorry!). Yesterday's edition was great as well, especially as it had my favourite astronomer, +Alex Filippenko, on.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Is ISON Saying "“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”?

Even while the Wake is taking place new images are showing something in an area where we expected to see, if not nothing, very little.


If you look at 11 o'clock next to the solar cut off disk you will see ISON - or what remains of her. We will not know for a while what we are seeing, though the professionals are putting forward educated ideas. It could be that there are a number of pieces have escaped complete destruction.


Thank you +Tavi Greiner of the CIOC_ISON Group for finding these and causing a few of us to the East of you to not go to bed when we had planned to. You have certainly brought a smile to a few people as well as causing people to scratch their heads.

In the morning I will be looking to see what has happened during the night - if I can sleep!

The Comet is Dead - Long live the research

This evening I shared with other members of the CIOC_ISON group the loss of a comet that did not live to see whether it was to be the Comet of the Century, a label promoted by the Media, rather than those who have spent many months of their lives following its progression in its orbit which it thought started in the Oort Cloud only to see it destroyed when it came close to the Sun.

We joined, with many others, the NASA ISON Google Hangout watching the progress of the comet through the use of a number of space telescopes including SOLO and STEREO.

When the Hangout finished we all drifted off - many to Thanksgiving Meals - with many giving a silent toast to this comet that had become part of our lives. Some will feel that they have lost a friend, others will feel that along with a hole in their lives.

There still remains something, but whatever there is can be no more than a ghost of the comet. there will be the dust thrown off and maybe some small fragments. I, along with others, will be trying to image this ghost in a week or so, but even if we are successful they will not be the images we had all hoped for.

ISON may be gone, but the work has not finished. The many observations of ISON are there for further research to take place because in its journey towards our Sun and its dying our understanding of our Solar System will be better understood.

I will certainly be examining the images taken, starting with the days leading up to the image I took of the disruption on the morning of the 13th of this month.


Was this the start of something that the Sun on gave the final blow. I do not know, but I am think that this is an area that needs questioning. It was only two days later when something else happened.

These are quite extreme changes - say I with so limited an experience in this area. Soon after it changed again - settling down?

Now these are just three of many images of ISON that I have taken during the past weeks. I am just one observer amongst many, so there must be thousands of images out there from which a complete illustrated history could be derived.

This is one of the reasons that I am glad that I am able to be part of the CIOC_ISON NASA ProAm Group led by +Padma Yanamandra-Fisher . This is exactly one of the many things that Padma is doing, Creating a timeline of observations that will be held in a database that can then be fully analysed by the ProAm community she has assembled.

The Comet may be dead, but the research and discoveries that will come from the observations will live on long after the general public have forgotten ISON, something of course we will never do.

Monday, 25 November 2013

C/2013 R1 Lovejoy and its tail Today

I had meant to be publishing a few of yesterday's images of Lovejoy - those will have to wait :) When I saw how the imaging of today's Lovejoy was going I thought yes - another Tail :)

Composite taken 25/11/2013 at 05:51:22.625 and 05:58.53.968 GMT (UT)
Purposely over exposed to show tail.
Each image FOV 116.5 x 77.7 arcmins - north is up.
SON@OSC (Searchlight Observatory Network at the Observatorio Sierra Contraviesa, Granada, Spain)
4" Pentax Refractor at F4, SBIG ST8 with clear filter. 1 minute exposure binx2 Observers Tony Angel & Caisey Harlingten

Little text today - so just enjoy :)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Clouds stopped play - apart from Friday

When the low clouds come in, as they did for most of he past week, it can be very frustrating in some ways, to see on The Net  images of the ever changing C/2012 S1 ISON, but it is exciting as well. Yesterday morning the clouds cleared, and I was able to take about three hundred images of Comets Lovejoy and ISON. This is about three to four times as many as I would normally take, the reason being is that with both comets being so bright now, it is no longer possible to take nice easy long exposures. Lots of short exposures means lot more work, so there will only a few to show today. This morning was particularly frustrating. Both ISON and Encke were in the same field of view, but again low cloud came in. The cloud was very thin, but because I was observing just above the horizon, the effect of trying to image through miles of thin cloud is as bad as trying to image through thick cloud. The first image from yesterday is one of a series that I took mainly to check on whether it was time to start serious imaging. Here is C/2012 S1 ISON just above a field of grape vines. If you look at the tree near the bottom it will look as though it is leaning. It is not. The field is not that steep! The image is at an angle, because the camera is always orientated so that one of the image sides is always pointing towards the Pole Star.
Below I have rotated the image so that is near the correct orientation.

I had actually started imaging a little bit early and when I get the time I will display the sequence.
Soon the comet was high enough to take reasonable images of it. Here is the best I took on Friday morning. Below you will see the negative which always shows more detail. Look at the right hand edge and the lower part of the tail.
You can see it below clearer.
and here is a blow up of the right hand edge.

Below I used a utility that makes the image look 3D. It is called a Rotational Gradient. This really highlight a disruption to the tail. One word of warning. When you start "playing" with an image whilst quite often bringing out some detail, it is also destroying other details. I always keep the original image safe and create copies to work on. It is always best to display the original image as well as the worked on one, so as not to cause confusion. 

The above images were all taken using the 4" Pentax F4 Refractor. using the ST8 CCD Camera.At the same time I was taking images with the 14" C14 and the ST7 CCD Camera. I was using this to capture the head or coma of the comet. I have still not processed most of them, but below is one image.

All I have shown here are some of the ISON images. We also took a number of images of C/2013 R1 Lovejoy. I will start processing these shortly and then show them here, hopefully on a page that I can get the formatting to work how I want :)




Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Its been a funny couple of days.

The two main comet Facebook Comet Groups I belong to - CIOC_ISON and Comet Watch - have been suffering from a shortage of current images over the past few day. Many of us have been clouded out - even though we are fairly scattered around the world.

I did manage to rescue some LRGB images from Saturday morning, but they were shot through cloud layers, which produced unusual results. I displayed one of them on Neil Norman's Comet Watch and was surprised by the positive response - I think partially because we were getting withdrawal symptoms and anything new to do with ISON helped.

On Sunday I messaged Petri Kehusmaa ,who is responsible for the SON New Mexico Observatory, asked if he could take an image of ISON for me to share with the groups and he came up trumps, even though it was hitting the limits of his local horizon, and he had to wait until just before dawn.. What I also did not know at the time was the operational telescope had not yet had First Light. Here is Petri's First Light image of Comet ISON:

The weather now seems to changing and over the past half day more images are starting to come in.

Sunday Evening saw the broadcast that I did a prerecorded interview for and +Padma Yanamandra-Fisher did live (brave lady), This was for Under British Skies on Astronomy.FM . If you missed it and would like to hear it then do not worry, a podcast will be available in a few days.

I had intended covering a recent discussion on whether Comet ISON is starting to fragment or not! That will have to wait for another day as I will soon be opening the observatory. The sky is fairly clear, so providing there is no last minute clouding we will capture some images of at least ISON,

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Nothing today but most certainly More of Yesterday the 15th November 2013

After a few hours sleep last night I went up to the observatory to open up. The ground was covered in ice and frost and the clamshell was covered in a coating of ice. I pressed the open button and nothing happened - the clams were frozen. Pushed up on one side to break the seal and it opened. That was in fact the highlight of the observing session. By the time I walked back down to the house and sat down at my desk had sat down the sky clouded over and for the next couple of hours only caught a few glimpses of C/2012 S1 ISON.

So back to yesterday.

After Wednesday I thought it would be a long time before such excitement would come around again. I was wrong!

I had opened up the observatory a little late so only spent a short time on C/2013 R1 Love joy, (note to self must get round to processing those images). Then onto C/2012 S1 ISON. After moving the telescope slightly I took a one minute exposure to check I had as much as possible on the frame.

I looked at it and thought where is the second tail. Looked again and saw that there were multiple tails. Quickly changed the setting to a 3 minute exposure and binned 3- (basically that means that a 3 x 3 square of pixels is treated as a single pixel - bigger pixels mean more light captured quickly). Started to take the image - 3 minutes gave me the chance to make a quick cup of coffee :) - the image downloaded and I thought Wow! What has happened to it?

I felt as though I was looking at an old woodcut or engraving. Just look at it and imagine if  it filled the sky as some great comets have in the past.

I sent this image along with a negative to CIOC_ISON for Padma to look at and also to Comet Watch for Neil.

Negatives are very useful as they are easier on the eye for seeing the detail. To say that when people saw this caused some interest, would be an understatement.

From downloading the image from the camera to it being up for people to view was achieved in about ten minutes.  This enabled people to react to the change, either discuss what was happening or assisting in preparing to follow up.

To achieve this speed I do have to keep the processing simple. Flat and Dark frames have been applied, the background normalised, the image slightly stretched to bring out detail, in this case rotated 180 degrees so that north is up and then first saved as a positive then a negative and finally uploaded to the sites.

If you are a serious comet observer then you may wish to join CIOC_ISON and you are a Facebook user then click on the link.

While doing this more images were needed and I set of a cycle of LRGB image taking. This involves the camera taking multiple images, rotating through clear, red, green and blue filters. Twenty seconds per image. That was when the cloud came in and only nineteen more images were taken.

It was time for a quick cup of coffee and then shutting the observatory.

Between answering and asking questions I processed four of the last set of images to produce a colour image. Because these were short exposures the coma (head) of the comet looks smaller and there is less detain in the tail.

You can though still see the multiple tails an yes the comet is green. During the rest of the day I continued to keep uptodate with the comet, taking part in a number of discussions and a number of other activities.

These activities including sending images to the Comet Section of the British Astronomical Association . Later in the day there was a report and ebulletin issued.

I also produced a montage based on the last seven days activity up to yesterday.

Although simple to put together it went down very well with all the people who saw it.

I was asked during the day for permission to display a number of the images on various websites. I may cover this in a later blog.

Finally I did a prerecroded interview with Paul Harper of  Under British Skies
and this will be broadcasted on Sunday.  Although I will be talking about the comet the interview I was first asked about what is Searchlight Observatory Network. I only hope that I get it right. :) For more on the comet there is at least one other person covering it and that is +Padma Yanamandra-Fisher and I expect that she will be the highlight of the show. Padma is responsible for the CIOC_ISON Group on Facebook.

The CIOC_ISON Group is an a forum to provide support for professional and amateur comet observers to: share, discuss and collaborate on observations of comet ISON, as part of NASA's Comet ISON Observing Campaign (CIOC).

Well that is the description!  but it is a lot more than that.

Detailed information about the CIOC is located at:

I finally got to bed twenty four hours after last in it.

Friday, 15 November 2013

ISON changes into a Broom Star - a quick uptdate

The weather was bad yesterday morning so no observing. It was very frustrating, people were reporting activity in the coma and all I could do was read other peoples reports :(

The comet is now naked eye - not by me :( I was racing to image what I could before the Sun came up.

Again I have been lucky and pointed the telescope at the right time at the right place and captured a change.

Let us look at the difference in how C/ISON has changed over the past seven days.

The change is quite dramatic. The first image shows it with a single tail, the next it has gained a second tail, the third it has changed a great deal as covered by a previous post and now it has taken on the form that one associates with 17th and 18th Century engravings of comets - the Broom Star. ...... and this has all happened in a week!

There will be more images later today. Click on the images below to see them larger.

Morning of 9th November
Morning of 12th November
Morning of 13th November
Morning of 15th November