August and September 2013. The comet should become visible in August and September 2013 to observers at dark locations using small telescopes or possibly even binoculars.
October 2013. Comet ISON should become visible to the unaided eye, but only barely in the early part of the month. The comet will be sweeping in front of the constellation Leo then. It’ll pass first near Leo’s brightest star Regulus, then near the planet Mars. Maybe these brighter objects will help you find it that month. Meanwhile, the comet itself will be getting brighter during October.
November 2013. Comet ISON will continue to brighten throughout the month as it nears its late November perihelion (closest point to our sun). Plus ISON will pass very close to the bright star Spica and the planet Saturn, both in the constellation Virgo. Its perihelion (closest point to our sun) on November 28 will be an exciting time. The comet will come within 800,000 miles (1.2 million km) of our sun’s surface. If all goes well, and the comet doesn’t break up (as comets sometimes do), the terrific heating Comet ISON will undergo when it’s closest to our parent star might turn the comet into a brilliant object. Some are predicting that ISON will become as bright as a full moon! That would make Comet ISON a daylight object, briefly. Remember, though, at perihelion, Comet ISON will appear close to the sun on the sky’s dome (only 4.4° north of the sun on November 28). Although the comet will be bright, you’ll need to look carefully to see it in the sun’s glare. Some expert help around this time might be called for, and we’ll announce comet-viewing parties as we hear about them.
December 2013. This may be the best month to see Comet ISON, assuming it has survived its close pass near the sun intact. The comet will be visible both in the evening sky after sunset and in the morning sky before sunrise. As ISON’s distance from the sun increases, it’ll grow dimmer. But, for a time, it should be as bright as our sky’s brightest planet, Venus, and it should have a long comet tail. People all over Earth will be able to see it, but it’ll be best seen from the Northern Hemisphere as 2013 draws to a close.
January 2014. Will ISON still be visible to the eye? Hopefully. And on January 8, 2014, the comet will lie only 2° from Polaris — the North Star.