VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: These charts are drawn for what is commonly called “mid Northern latitudes”, i.e. the UK, northern Europe and most of the US. If you live outside of that area your opportunities to view ISON will be different. To find out if you can see ISON from where YOU live, please go to this page of my blog…

…where you’ll find a fantastic NASA chart giving general guidance, and a number of charts I’ve made showing the comet’s visibility from other places, specifically India, Japan and The Philipines, which are the places I’m getting the most enquiries from. If you’re still not sure about your ability to see ISON after reading all that, I strongly suggest that you download one of the many available astronomy apps onto your phone, which will tell you exactly what you want to know.  I recommend some of those on this page of my blog…

Thanks – and good luck with ISON!



There are a LOT of charts on this page, and all of them will be useful to you one way or another, I hope. But I’m aware that some of you visiting here just want a very quick “Where is it? SHOW me!!” guide to where to find the comet, so I’ve come up with some extremely simple charts for you! I hope you’ll scroll down the page and see the others, too, but in the meantime these should help you until month’s end.

Dec 1st: Having rounded the Sun what will ISON do? What will it look like? Will it have an amazing, beautiful tail? We can’t know yet. But we know where it will BE – in the east, before dawn. On Dec 1st it will lie to the left of the very thin crescent Moon (size exaggerated on this next pic to show where it is), Mars and Mercury.

6 01 Dec 07.20

Dec 3rd: As December gets into its stride ISON could be a striking sight in the pre-dawn sky, we just don’t know yet…

7 03 Dec 06.45

Dec 5th: By now it should be worth looking for Comet ISON in the western sky after sunset, too. On the 5th it will lie to the right of the lovely crescent Moon and brilliant Venus. It might still be hard to see against the bright twilight tho…

9 05 Dec 16.10

Dec 5th: earlier that morning ISON will be easier to see, standing above the eastern horizon with its tail – if it has one – pointing almost straight up.

10 05 Dec 06.45

Dec 10th: Definitely worth looking for ISON after sunset now, even though the sky will still be bright and the tail will only make a shallow angle with the horizon…

11 10 Dec 16.30

Dec 13th: ISON **could** be a striking sight in the western sky after sunset now, we’ll have to wait and see, but here is where to look for it, whatever it does…

12 15 Dec 16.30

Earlier that morning ISON will be much easier to see in the east before dawn, with its tail – if it has one – pointing straight up from the horizon…

13 15 Dec 04.00

Dec 20th: ISON higher after sunset by now but probably fading a lot too…

14 20 Dec 16.30

Dec 25th – at the end of Christmas Day, look for Comet ISON in the north late in the evening, its tail pointing up towards thestars of the Big Dipper…

15 25 Dec 22.00

Dec 25th: before dawn on Christmas Day Comet ISON will be well clear of the eastern horizon, above and between the bright stars Vega and Arcturus.

16 25 Dec 06.15


                               MID-MONTH TO END OF MONTH – MORNING & EVENING SKY


December is when most people will see Comet ISON, I think. Not just because that’s when it should be at its brightest – having rounded and been assaulted by the heat and radiation of the Sun – but because, moving away from the Sun, heading back into the colder depths of the solar system, it will be visible, for the first time, in both the morning and evening sky too. In fact, after Dec 21st the comet won’t set, it will be so close to the Pole Star, around which everything in the sky revolves, that it will be visible from sunset to sunrise.

Many comet experts are now quietly confident that Comet ISON will be at its best during the first week and a half of December, with a very respecable tail which might stretch across a good portion of the sky and make it an obvious naked eye object. But even if it isn’t an *obvious* naked eye object, ISON should remain bright enough to be visible to the naked eye right through December, from a dark site with little light pollution anyway.

And the key to the whole “How impressive will ISON be?” riddle is the tail. Because although ISON’s head itself isn’t expected to get amazingly bright (certainly not “brighter than the Full Moon!” as some people are STILL screaming, even though that was proved wrong long ago!) it might grow a long tail, which would make it eye-catching simply because it would look so out of place in the sky, like a long, broad vapour trail which just hangs there all night, not dissipating as normal airplane vapour trails do over minutes and hours.

If ISON does develop a long tail – and we’ll have more of an idea about that possibility in a few weeks, I hope – then we could be in for a treat. And at the start of the month, as was the case in late November, it might be worth looking for that tail poking up from behind the eastern horizon before dawn, even if the head itself can’t be seen. And even if it can’t be seen with the eye, it might be worth taking long exposure photos of the sky at that time, because such a photo might actually capture a tail too faint for the eye to see.

On Christmas Eve Comet ISON shoul;d be an attractive sight both before dawn and after dusk, and on the next evening, Christmas Night, the comet should be shining to the left of the Big Dipper after sunset, providing a fitting farewell tribute to Matt Smith as he leaves the TARDIS and hands over the sonic screwdriver to another actor as he hands over the role of Doctor Who…

Then, as December comes to an end, and 2014 approaches, the comet will be both a morning and an evening object, heading up towards the stars of the Little Dipper. By then it might need binoculars to see it, but any speculation about that this far ahead is pretty pointless; we just don’t know enough about what the comet is going to do yet. But we do know where it will BE, and these charts will help you look for and find it, however bright or faint it is.

Dec 1 am

Dec 01 PM

Dec 3rd am

Dec 05 am

Dec 05 PM

Dec 8th am

Dec 9th am

Dec 9th am b

Dec 10th pm

Dec 12th pm

Dec 13th am

Dec 18th pm

Dec 20th am

Dec 22nd pm

Dec 24 am

Dec 25th pm

Dec 27th am

Dec 31 am

…and here we are at New Year’s Eve. Hopefully as 2013 rolls into 2014, we’ll all be looking back on Comet ISON with great fondness and many happy memories of seeing and photographing a bright naked eye comet with a beautiful tail, and not cursing its name for failing to “turn on” as we all hoped it would, and leave us to continue our wait for a truly beautiful comet. We’ll have to wait and see!

1 Comment

One thought on “DECEMBER 2013

  1. cheryll

    Thanks for showing the location of Ison. I have been doing a biblical teaching on it for the past few months.

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