[meteorite-list] 'New Year's Comet' Lovejoy Reaches Its Peak: Watch for It
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2015 16:22:54 -0800 (PST)
'New Year's Comet' Lovejoy Reaches Its Peak: Watch for It
By Alan Boyle
January 7, 2015
It's prime time for Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2), this month's "It" comet:
Wednesday night marks the comet's closest approach to Earth, at a distance
of 44 million miles (70 million kilometers), and heralds the start of
the best season for viewing. But you have to know where to look.
"If you can find Orion shining high in the southeast after dinnertime,
you'll be looking in the right direction to track down Comet Lovejoy,"
Sky & Telescope senior editor Kelly Beatty said in a news release. Sky
& Telescope's finder charts should help you spot the comet during the
next couple of weeks, when it's theoretically bright enough to be seen
with the naked eye.
"Theoretically" is the operative word, because you'll have a better chance
of seeing the fuzzball if you're equipped with binoculars or a telescope.
This chart shows the view looking southeast during mid-January at about
8 p.m. local time. Look to the upper right of the distinctive constellation
Orion to locate Comet Lovejoy. Binoculars will help.
Photographs reveal a greenish glow to the comet's coma, due to the presence
of diatomic carbon and cyanogen. There's a faint tail as well, but you're
unlikely to see that kind of detail with the naked eye.
The comet was discovered last August by Australian amateur astronomer
Terry Lovejoy, who has discovered four earlier comets (some of which also
came to the public's attention as "Comet Lovejoy.") For days, skywatchers
have been posting pictures to Facebook pages and SpaceWeather.com's comet
gallery. AmazingSky.com's Alan Dyer ranks among the most vigilant comet-watchers.
For more about the prime-time comet, check out the updated viewing guides
from Space.com, EarthSky.org and Sky & Telescope. Virtual Telescope Project
2.0 is planning an online viewing party at 2 p.m. ET Jan. 11.
If you're hunting for Comet Lovejoy on Wednesday night, take a look at
Jupiter and the moon as well. They should be rising over the eastern horizon
around 8 p.m. local time. "As the evening wears on, both the moon and
Jupiter will appear to ascend in the sky, side by side," Space.com's Joe
Received on Wed 07 Jan 2015 07:22:54 PM PST