While comet ISON is expected to become easily visible to the naked eye as its tail grows on approach to the sun, a pair of binoculars or a telescope will certainly make the viewing of ISON that much more spectacular.
According to their web site dedicated to Comet ISON, “NASA has initiated a Comet ISON Observing Campaign to facilitate a massive global observation campaign incorporating both space-based and ground-based telescopes and encouraging citizen scientists and both professional and amateur astronomers to participate.”
Where is Comet ISON now
Comet ISON was first spotted 585 million miles away in September of 2012. Currently, Comet ISON is heading toward the sun and the intense heat and radiation is beginning to boil the water-ice on ISON, making it grow a tail.
If ISON survives its upcoming pass around the sun, reaching its closest approach to the sun on Thanksgiving Day Nov. 28, 2013, it should become brilliantly visible in the Northern Hemisphere.
At this closest approach, ISON will pass within only 730,000 miles above the sun’s surface. The intense internal pressure of the warming comet at that point could cause it to break apart. But if not, it should be visible with just the naked eye, and is predicted to be a particularly bright and beautiful comet.
Aside from its potentially intense beauty and visibility, part of the reason that astronomers are so excited about ISON is that this is the comet’s first pass by our sun since dropping out of the ORT cloud where comets come from.
This means that ISON, “is still made of pristine matter from the earliest days of the solar system’s formation, its top layers never having been lost by a trip near the sun,” says NASA.
To gather as much space science as possible, scientists be focusing the attention of at least 15 space-based assets and as many ground-based observatories as possible toward ISON. NASA refers to ISON in its pristine composition as a “time capsule from when the solar system first formed.”