Comet Lovejoy

Lovejoy: The New Year’s Comet

 

A new comet is appearing overhead just in time for the New Year. C/2014 Q2 is already visible to the naked eye, and will get brighter over the next few weeks:

This is the fifth comet discovered by Australian “amateur” astronomer Terry Lovejoy. In 2011, one of “his” comets made a spectacular pass through the sky. This one may not be quite so ostentatious, but its location and brightness make it a winner. On Jan. 7 it will pass about 70 million kilometers (44 million miles) from Earth, and it’s predicted to peak around 4th magnitude; easily visible from dark skies without optical aid.

As a bonus, it’s passing near the constellation of Orion, making it easier to find, and it’ll also glide past Taurus and the Pleiades, providing for what should be some pretty photogenic scenes. It’s moving roughly north, so it gets higher all the time for Northern Hemisphere observers…

If you want to see this comet for yourself—and you do—it rises a couple of hours after sunset. For now, I suggest waiting until about 9-ish or so to look, since it will be high off the horizon then, but your kilometerage may vary. It rises earlier every day, and by early January it’ll be high up by the time it gets dark (though the nearly full Moon will make things tougher; after about Jan. 7 or so the Moon will rise late enough that it won’t be as big a problem). Sky and Telescope has excellent maps with the comet’s path on them. If you have bad weather, or just want to stay indoors, the Virtual Telescope Project will have live online viewings on Jan. 6 and Jan. 11, 2015.

Australian skywatcher Phil Hart posted a stunning time-lapse of the comet, recorded two days ago:

It won’t be back in our neighborhood for about 14,000 yeas, so put on a warm jacket and check it out, Ricochetti.

Image via Gerald Rhemann. View his full-resolution version here.

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  1. carlboraca@gmail.com Inactive
    carlboraca@gmail.com
    @PleatedPantsForever

    Is Terry Lovejoy related to Reverend Lovejoy?

    You eggheads may think these comets are all fun and games but we Ricochet members who are clinging to our boomsticks and skygods know what this could mean……a zombie apocalypse (I seen it in a movie once)

    I better go board up the windows just to be safe, thanks for ruining my New Years Eve plans

    • #1
  2. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    That’s a beauty! Thanks for the heads-up.

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    PPF, you’re worried about the zombie apocalypse? I live in Iowa. We are gonna have Jeb and the Hillerator and Bernie and Jim Webb and Warpath Warren and who knows who else staggering about moaning “brains” everywhere you look.

    • #3
  4. carlboraca@gmail.com Inactive
    carlboraca@gmail.com
    @PleatedPantsForever

    Percival:PPF, you’re worried about the zombie apocalypse?I live in Iowa.We are gonna have Jeb and the Hillerator and Bernie and Jim Webb and Warpath Warren and who knows who else staggering about moaning “brains” everywhere you look.

    P – I’m in Illinois. After they eat your brain, I’m next!

    • #4
  5. user_199279 Coolidge
    user_199279
    @ChrisCampion

    I’m still waiting for Comet Killroy.

    http://youtu.be/ZlioO6r886E

    • #5
  6. user_409996 Inactive
    user_409996
    @EdwardSmith

    Well, Pleated Pants Forever,  if it’s Braaiinnz you’ll be peckish for, pay a call on your fellow Ricochetti.

    Gelatin Brain Mold

    • #6
  7. carlboraca@gmail.com Inactive
    carlboraca@gmail.com
    @PleatedPantsForever

    Edward Smith:Well, Pleated Pants Forever, if it’s Braaiinnz you’ll be peckish for, pay a call on your fellow Ricochetti.

    Gelatin Brain Mold

    ES – if I know zombies, which I probably don’t, I know they need the real thing. Fake brains from molds is not going to cut it.

    Lucky for me, real brains are hard to come by these days in the Land of Lincoln.

    Since no sane being would tolerate the temperatures of Arizona (America’s hottest retirement home) JG is probably safe as well, which would explain why he is so flip on this matter.

    As for the rest of you, I suggest taking inventory in the bunker to celebrate 2015

    • #7
  8. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    Pleated Pants Forever:

    Percival:PPF, you’re worried about the zombie apocalypse?I live in Iowa.We are gonna have Jeb and the Hillerator and Bernie and Jim Webb and Warpath Warren and who knows who else staggering about moaning “brains” everywhere you look.

    P – I’m in Illinois. After they eat your brain, I’m next!

    PPF:  You have it backwards, our brains have been gone for years.

    • #8
  9. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    For those of us who aren’t conversant with star charts, which direction do we look (and don’t say “up”).

    • #9
  10. Tim H. Inactive
    Tim H.
    @TimH

    SpaceWeather.com is a good source for updated news on this comet and other kinds of back yard astronomy.  There’s a nice gallery of images up there now, along with links to Sky & Telescope’s finder charts.

    My darling sister bought me an “intervalometer” for my digital SLR camera for Christmas, which will let me take a timed series of photos automatically.  My friends who do astrophotography and time lapse photography recommended this, and I’ll try this out tonight on Lovejoy if we’ve got clear skies again.  With a series of photos, you can “stack” them (with software) and get the equivalent of a single, long exposure, but cleaner.

    • #10
  11. Red Feline Inactive
    Red Feline
    @RedFeline

    I’ve tweeted and Facebooked this interesting news. Toronto is glowing with city lights so I won’t be able to see the comet, but some of my family and friends might see it.

    I googled Your Sky and up came your name John. It gave me a great map of the sky above me and I like to think of the comet up there somewhere just above me.

    Thanks for the warning about the zombies. The implication is that they may want to eat my brains. This means that I may have some. :) Glad to hear it!

    • #11
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