Comet ISON is brightening as it approaches the sun. Multiple observers now report that it is a binocular object. "I finally saw Comet ISON for the first time using small binoculars!" says pilot Brian Whittaker. He was flying 38,000 feet over the Mediterranean Sea on Nov. 8th when he took this picture showing where to look:
"It was faint, but is predicted to brighten and move each day," he adds. "Exciting! "
"I have made my first confirmed binocular sighting of C/2012 S1 ISON as well," reports Pete Lawrence of Selsey UK on Nov. 9th. "ISON's head appears small and stellar through a pair of 15x70s optics."
Comet ISON is currently moving through the constellation Virgo low in the eastern sky before dawn. Shining like an 8th magnitude star, it is still too dim for naked eye viewing, but an increasingly easy target for backyard optics. Amateur astronomers, if you have a GOTO telescope, enter these coordinates. Special dates of interest are Nov. 17th and 18th when the comet will pass the bright star Spica. Sky maps: Nov. 10, 11, 12, 13.
Don't delay, because Comet ISON is plunging toward the sun for a perilous encounter on Nov. 28th. At closest approach, the comet will be deep inside the sun's corona and little more than a million kilometers from the fiery stellar surface. If ISON survives--a big IF--it could emerge from solar fire as a naked-eye comet for northern-hemisphere observers in December. Monitoring is encouraged!