Watch live updates on comet ISON

Way cool interactive website shows what is going on in real time…


Watch it here:

h/t to Eric Berger


newest oldest most voted
Notify of

Way cool indeed. Thanks. Thanksgiving thanks and Blessings.


Only 370,805.45mph? pffttt! ISON ain’t got nuthin’ on the NASCAR wannabees that pass me on my morning commute!
(This is great. Thanks A-nt-ho-ny and Eric Berger)

I was listening to Adagio for Strings when I clicked the 3d animation… thought we were all going to die for a second.


Thank you ( from all us amateur astronomers out there ) for posting something about this. I was thinking just an hour ago about writing a little article for submission as I was unsure you would cover this event.
I’m sure your readers will want to follow this story given that it could soon be a spectacular sight in the South Eastern skies should it survive perihelion tomorrow.
I for one am hoping it does as i’ve been out all month scouting viewing points to set up my cameras to shoot the comet during December.
Readers may also find this helpful


Quite impressed with the per second speed, wow, and it’s increasing.
What does the AU reading mean?


AU is short for astronomical uit, ldd. 1 AU is the average distance from the earth to the sun (just under 93 million miles).
Incidentally, its speed will increase a LOT between now and perihelion – think rollercoaster just reaching the top of the first drop 🙂


Thanks Joe, fascinating stuff.

What is the expected maximum speed?


Around 845000 MPH (235 miles per second). Even the nascar wannabes may be struggling to keep up by then 😀

R. de Haan



“We (I assume they mean NASA) will point SDO at three different positions as Comet ISON moves through perihelion on November 28, 2013.” ” We plan to off-point at 17:30 UTC (12:30 pm ET) and return to normal solar observing at 20:45 UTC (3:45 pm ET). We will begin posting images after SDO completes the first repointing maneuver and we obtain and process the data. Images should begin appearing sometime between 12:45 pm and 1:00 pm ET.”
See for more info on this.
OT — I’ve had problems with Flash player crashing more and more often, even though I updated it to the latest version. It crashed on the ad when I opened up wattsupwiththat this time. Wonder if anyone else has experienced issues with Flash?


ahem.. not live updates, it’s a model
REPLY: Yes but the speed and trajectory is a live update – A


Thanks for this. I will spread it around.


What browser? Try disabling add-ons one-by-one.

lurker, passing through laughing

At its terminal high speed, it will not take much of a bit sunward falling debris to give it a huge jolt. That interactive dynamic map is amazing. Its hyperbolic trajectory makes it unlikely that even if it breaks up radically any bits of it would hit earth.


clipe says:
November 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm
Also check ad blocking software. (something I read over at BishopHill)


clipe says:
November 27, 2013 at 3:10 pm
One more suggestion. Try “private browsing” (Firefox-Internet Exploder)


AnonyMoose says:
November 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm
ahem.. not live updates, it’s a model
So, would “live updates of the data provided so that we might provide some semblance of the trajectory of the comet for your viewing pleasure and enlightenment” work for you.
Or do you need more ?

Bill Illis

Latest image from SOHO Lasco C3 of comet Ison as of about 40 minutes ago.
Note there is another large CME going on right now which makes for the third one today.


@clipe. Will try your suggestion about addons. Using SeaMonkey as a browser (related to FireFox). Not using ad-blocking software (although maybe I should).
Thanks for suggestions.


littlepeaks says:
flash problem

Another option is to disable hardware acceleration (pause video, rightclick on video, settings > disable hardware acceleration – sometimes the settings menu item will only appear in the full-screen mode)


The Lasco 3C images are very interesting. If you copy any two images taken 15 minutes apart (the default update period) to your desktop and open them in separate windows, size and position them just right they’re perfect and perfectly gorgeous (3D) stereograms.


Thank you for these updates. It is interesting stuff.


Yes, I know that it’s a rather accurate estimate of the path, except for perturbations caused by things such as thrust caused by venting. And the trajectory information ignores what we most want to know: Does it break up? How visible is it? How visible will it be?
Fortunately, we’ll soon find out about ISON’s behavior, unlike the delay in people finding out the difference between climate models and reality.

I still don’t understand how the Earth can look closer to the sun than Mercury, like it did in the other post about this comet.


Tom – imagine viewing the evening sky and Mercury has reached its widest apparent angle to the sun from our viewpoint – it is as far from the sun as it can appear. Now imagine Venus is just coming into view from the solar haze. Its orbit is very much farther from the sun than is Mercury, but because it is just emerging from behind the solar disk it appears closer to the sun owing to viewing angle. Over time as Venus’ orbit causes it to reach its maximum viewing angle from the sun it will catch up to and pass (in angular distance from the sun) Mercury. Mercury will be drawing angularly closer to the sun at the same time so it doesn’t take long.

Bill Jamison

A couple of days ago the news was depressing as word came that the comet’s nucleus had likely disintigrated. Now the evidence indicates that it’s intact and brightening rapidly. This is getting excited. Latest projections I’ve seen indicate it will likely reach an apparent magnitude of -1 to -4. Maybe even visible during daylight.
I can’t wait to see it and I really hope it doesn’t disappoint. This really could be unprecendented 😉


Bill, I hope you’re right, but I’m holding off on getting excited. In my lifetime, every comet predicted to be spectacular has been a bust.


top branding agency says:
November 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm
Spam. Moderator: FETCH! 😉

Herp McDerp

Here’s another source for near-real-time images of Comet ISON and the Sun, from the SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) satellite —
Each image on the page is in a different wavelength. Click on a thumbnail image to get a 512×512 image; click on that to get a 1024×1024 image. The comet may not appear in the tight field of view of most of the channels, but it’s already visible in the L3 view and should be in the L2 view soon. (L2 and L3 denote images from the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph, an instrument on SOHO.)

Herp McDerp

Whoops — I made a dumb copy-and-paste editing error. For L2 and L3, substitute LASCO C2 and LASCO C3 in that explanation.

Bloke down the pub

I take it that should Ison plunge into the sun, the flare it would trigger would be pretty spectacular. Just hope it doesn’t point our way.


Bloke down the pub says:
November 28, 2013 at 3:43 am
I take it that should Ison plunge into the sun, the flare it would trigger would be pretty spectacular. Just hope it doesn’t point our way.
I doubt the sun would even notice. Like a fly on an elephant’s backside.


I may not be an expert on orbital mechanics, but when there is still supposed to be 5.5 hours to perihelion and yet velocity is decreasing and distance from the sun is increasing, someone made a mistake on their model…

Bill Illis

Latest pic from Lasco C3 as at 12:54 UTC, 40 minutes ago. Its near impossible to get updated images from SOHO right now so this is from a direct depository.
We’ve certainly lost much of the comet coma in the last few hours.

There are recent, if not “live”, updates that ISON has apparently survived to this point.

The cometison2013 site says that they’ve had to update their scripts. “Problems viewing the data? We’ve had to update all the JavaScript files for today so if you’re having problems viewing the data, make sure to refresh the page or try clearing your web browser’s cache.”

SOHO can obviously just give you live images of it’s actual position/condition barring periods where it is behind the sun.
NASA’s site is very slow at the moment, but you can find the images/gif’s here on NASA’s site:
ESA also has a mirror that’s much faster at the moment.

Bill Illis

Ison is now showing up on Lasco C2. This is going to be very interesting.

CodeTech says:
November 28, 2013 at 5:06 am

I may not be an expert on orbital mechanics, but when there is still supposed to be 5.5 hours to perihelion and yet velocity is decreasing and distance from the sun is increasing, someone made a mistake on their model…

I was going to mention that myself. My take is that it’s the velocity relative a radial from the Sun. If so, it will drop to zero at perihelion and start increasing (or contininue decreasing!) as it heads back out.
If that’s right, 0 velocity will occur at maximum speed (a scalar term) and
maximum kinetic energy.
The distance to the Sun is 0.013 au, That means the gravitational acceleration due to the Sun on the comet is 6,000X what it is on me. I’m tempted to compute that today, though I’ve been trying to take time to work on frequency shifting wind turbine infrasound. Quiet Thanksgiving here!

Jean Meeus

Ric Werme says….
No, the speed mentioned in the box is the orbital speed, the speed in the orbit. This speed will be a maximum, not be zero, when the comet reaches the perihelion of its orbit.


Well, ISON: this is losing mass.


Not only does the widget show it slowing down as it approaches perihelion, it’s distance from the sun continues to increase, now over 2 million miles! I guess someone screwed up on the math.

Jean Meeus

Watch it here:
and you will see that at this moment the comet’s speed increases and its distance to the Sun is still decreasing!

Jean Meeus says:
November 28, 2013 at 7:06 am
> Ric Werme says….
> No, the speed mentioned in the box is the orbital speed,
Hmm, I might have had the old Javascript running. Just now it was clear that perihelion had happened, reloading the page produced something that’s updating faster and shows the solar distance is still decreasing and speed increasing, as it must.
One of the things about these grazing trajectories is they really whip around Sun/planet, the simulation shows it well. Peak speed will be around escape velocity.


just hit 800,000 mph – that’s a fair old lick of speed!

Thanks, Anthony. A very good Website!



Kev-in-Uk says November 28, 2013 at 9:42 am
just hit 800,000 mph – that’s a fair old lick of speed!

If my math is correct, that’s a bit over 1/1000 * c (‘c’ being the speed-o-light) … that _is_ moving!