A good month for comets
Comet ISON photo courtesy hubblesite.org /NASA/Hubble
 
Comet ISON may or may not be the "Comet of the Century" as many had hoped earlier this year, and the suspense as it approaches our Sun is palpable among comet lovers. Regardless, several unexpectedly bright visitors this month are adding to the fun of watching our early morning eastern skies! Three additional comets, Comet 2P/Encke , Comet C/2012 X1 LINEAR, and Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy, will be visible with small telescopes (or possibly binoculars) at night. The best part? Their paths will take them relatively close to ISON from our point of view in our night sky!

If you have a good view of the east and clear fairly dark skies, you may even be able to see all four before our Sun comes up; enterprising astrophotographers may even be able to snap shots of our visitors as well. Be quick to catch them before they disappear into the glare of our Sun.

In addition to our cometary visitors, the planets Mars and Jupiter are rising, with Jupiter being quite glorious and high in our sky before sunrise. Winter constellation Orion will be up high with its host of gorgeous objects, and Sirius lights up its part of the sky with a characteristic cold brilliant glare. Asteroid lovers take note: Ceres and Vesta are also in the same patch of sky as the comets, with Pallas nearby, slightly to the south, as well. 

The below image is of the eastern sky on November 3, 2013, at approximately 5:30 am for observers around 40 degrees North. To track these comets and create maps for your location, use the same software used to create this map: the free and open Stellarium.
 
IMage of the sky in the east on November 3, 2013, just before sunrise.


There will be many cometary observing events during the next couple of months; to find the ones nearest you check out the Night Sky Network's events list

Good luck, and clear skies!


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SkySafari, a powerful planetarium that fits in your pocket, lists Night Sky Network astronomy club star parties, safe solar gazing events, and lectures in the help menu. SkySafari is available for Android and the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.


Clear skies and happy stargazing!
 

The NASA Night Sky Network is managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in cooperation with NASA