posted on Dec, 30 2014 @ 10:18 AM
" COMET LOVEJOY BRIGHTENS: It's official. Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is now a naked-eye object. Science journalist and longtime comet watcher
Mariano Ribas of the Planetario de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, reports that "Comet Lovejoy has reached magnitude 5.0, just above the
threshold for human visibility from dark-sky sites. Even in the light polluted sky of Buenos Aires, the comet is a very easy object in 10x50
On Dec. 28th, Italian astrophotographer Rolando Ligustri used a remotely-controlled telesope in Australia to capture this image of the comet passing
by star cluster M79:
Alan Dyer, author of the e-book How to Shoot Nightscapes and Timelapses, confirms the comet's growing brightness: "From my dark observing site near
Silver City, New Mexico, the comet was visible to the naked eye on Dec. 27-28, though only if you knew just where to look."
Roughly speaking, the comet is passing south of the constellation Orion. Finder charts from Sky & Telescope will help you find it in the midnight sky.
For accurate pointing of telescopes, an ephemeris from the Minor Planet Center is available.
For astrophotographers interested in "beauty shots," Comet Lovejoy has a marvelous pallette. The sinuous blue ion tail both contrasts and
compliments the comet's puffy green atmosphere. These colors come from ionized carbon monoxide (CO+) and diatomic carbon (C2), which glow blue and
green, respectively, in the near-vacuum of interplanetary space.
"Looking the behaviour of this comet over the past month, I think that it will brighten to magnitude 4.5 or even 4.0 in the first week of 2015,"
predicts Ribas. If so, the show has just begun. Stay tuned for updates. "