04 January 2015

Comet Lovejoy arrives in the night sky

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2
Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy has arrived in the night sky for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere, and in the coming days promises to be a fine sight especially through binoculars or a telescope, shimmering in green light with a slight tail. The comet is on a trajectory around the Sun and will pass nearest to Earth on January 7th, but given the geometry of its path, it will be ideally placed for viewing over the next few weeks as it rises high into the southern sky and as the Moon moves from Full to Waning phase. The finder chart, courtesy of Sky & Telescope, shows the daily movement of the comet across the backdrop of stars.
Path of Comet Lovejoy
I had good success finding it on January 1st despite the glow of the Waxing Moon, and look forward to tracking it down as soon as the moonlight begins to fade in a week. Stay tuned for updates. 

More information can be found in this excellent article from Sky & Telescope: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/spot-comet-lovejoy-tonight-122920141/


Paulie said...

I've seen it a couple times in the last week, and hope to see it again tonight. It should get easier as it climbs higher in the northern sky. It was bright enough December 31 that the gibbous Moon didn't interfere. After much hype in recent years of "Comet of the Century," Lovejoy Q2 looks like a decent comet with little fanfare. Remember Comet ISON? Me neither.

The Urban Astronomer said...

hi Paulie - agreed, it's nice to have a comet just show up and do what it is supposed to do without any fanfare, especially after the ISON fiasco :-)

I planned an early morning star party to see ISON in all of its brilliance after the Thanksgiving 2013 pass around the Sun and was so disappointed that it disintegrated!

Enjoy the skies in the coming weeks, and stay warm!


Nicole Shumaker said...

Hello- I would like to get a pair of binoculars and look for it, but it's been quite cloudy in the city all week. Wondering if I should try east bay or Marin to escape light pollution and perhaps gain some elevation. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

The Urban Astronomer said...

hi Nicole - the most important thing you need is clear skies. So keep your eyes on the sky and as soon as a clear night arrives, grab your binoculars and look. I'm sure that you won't have a problem seeing the comet if you use the finder chart.

And of course, darker skies are great, but this comet is quite nice even in city lights.