Promising Comet ISON Stars in Webcast Tonight: How to Watch Live

Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)
The comet that may put on a spectacular light show during a November date with the Sun, was observed by the Deep Impact mission. The spacecraft has also had close fly-bys of comet's Tempel 1 and Hartley 2 and scientific observations of Garradd. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD (Tony Farnham))

The potentially spectacular Comet ISON is barreling toward the inner solar system, but you don't have to wait until November, when it is closest to the sun, to try to spot the icy wanderer. A live webcast tonight takes aim at Comet ISON as a preview to its main event later this year.

The online Slooh Space Camera will host the free live webcast of Comet ISON tonight at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) using the company's remotely operated observatory in the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa. You can watch the comet webcast live on here.

"Comet ISON is now headed directly toward the sun, which it will graze at the end of November," Bob Berman, an astronomer with Astronomy Magazine who will participate in the 30-minute Slooh webcast, told "That month, it should attain naked-eye brightness, and very probably become magnificently brilliant for a few weeks after Thanksgiving. This possibly-historic visit cannot be ignored, and Slooh is dedicating one night a month between now and then to watch it live, firsthand, as it approaches. This is one celestial interloper that will not sneak up on us."

In fact, Comet ISON may be one of the most-watched comets in years. NASA is organizing a global observing campaign to track the comet with ground-based telescopes and spacecraft across the solar system. [See photos of Comet ISON]

Some astronomers have said ISON could become the "Comet of the Century," when it makes its closest approach to the sun on Nov. 28. But that depends on how the comet holds together as it nears the sun, NASA scientist Don Yeomans, chief of the agency's Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has said. The comet could put on a dazzling display, or it could fizzle out entirely, he added.

Tuesday's Comet ISON webcast will be presented by Berman and Slooh observatory engineer Paul Cox. You can also follow the webcast directly at the Slooh Space Camera website.

So far, Comet ISON is not brightening as much as scientists had expected. The comet was first discovered in September 2012 by Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok using the International Scientific Optical Network. The comet's official name is C/2012 S1 (ISON).

This is the orbital trajectory of comet C/2012 S1 (ISON). The comet is currently located just inside the orbit of Jupiter. In November 2013, ISON will pass less than 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) from the sun's surface. The fierce heating it experiences during this close approach to the sun could turn the comet into a bright naked-eye object. Image released Feb. 5, 2013. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On Nov. 28, Comet ISON will fly within 800,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) of the sun's surface — an extremely close shave — making ISON a sungrazer comet.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing picture of Comet ISON or any other night sky view that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.