Comet ISON imaged by Julian Durnwalder on 11-10-2013
using itelescope.net's T21 in Mayhill, New Mexico
According to veteran comet observer, John Bortle, Comet ISON was shining only at magnitude +8.5 on Monday (Nov. 11) morning - more than six times too dim to be visible to the unaided eye. But by Wednesday morning, the comet’s brightness had increased three-fold brightening to +7.3.
In just 72 hours, Comet ISON increased nearly 16 times in brightness. Carl Hergenrother, acting co-coordinator of the comet section of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, has confirmed Bortle's observations. "ISON has dramatically brightened over the past few days," Hergenrother told SPACE.com via email. "The latest observations put the comet around magnitude 5.7 to 6.1 which is a 2+ magnitude increase from this weekend. My own observations from this morning in 10x50 and 30x125 binoculars show a nice 'lollipop' comet with a very condensed blue-green head and a long narrow tail. The tail was over 1 degree in length even in the 10x50s. The comet may continue to brighten as the outburst is still in its early stages."
|Bill Martinec captured this image of Comet Lovejoy|
remotely using iTelecope.net's T16 in Nerpio, Spain
As of Nov. 6, based on a consensus of worldwide observers, Comet Lovejoy had reached magnitude 6.5, which is considered to be the threshold of naked eye visibility in a dark sky, far from any bright lights.
The new comet is getting progressively brighter with each passing day. This is because while en route to its Dec. 22 rendezvous with the sun, Lovejoy will make its close approach with Earth on Tuesday, when it will pass within 36.9 million miles (59.4 million km) of the planet.
At its best around that time, Comet Lovejoy "might" become as bright as magnitude 4.5, still a moderately faint object, yet bright enough to be glimpsed with the naked eye and certainly a fine object for binoculars and small telescopes. Unfortunately, the moon will be two days past full that morning and well up in the west, lighting up the sky, probably preventing any naked-eye viewing opportunity.