Currently shining at magnitude +5.5, Comet Q2 Lovejoy has already been spied by eagle-eyed observers unaided from dark sky sites to the south. The current projected peak brightness for Comet Q2 Lovejoy is +4th magnitude right around mid-January.
Q2 Lovejoy will also pass near the open clusters of the Hyades and the Pleiades through mid-January, and cross into the constellations of Aries and Triangulum by late January before heading northward to pass between the famous Double Cluster in Perseus and the Andromeda Galaxy M31 in February, proving further photo ops. From there, Q2 Lovejoy is expected to drop below naked eye visibility in late February before passing very near the North Star Polaris and the northern celestial pole at the end of May on its way out of the inner solar system on its 8,000 year journey.
So, although 2014 didn’t produce the touted “comet of the century,” 2015 is already getting off to a pretty good start in terms of comets.
David Dickinson is an Earth science teacher, freelance science writer, retired USAF veteran & backyard astronomer. Rogue Star HIP 85605 on Collision Course with our Solar System, but Earthlings Need Not WorryWhat Is The Biggest Thing in The Universe? MemberAqua4UJanuary 2, 2015 4:42 PMIt would be interesting to actually see where, when and how strong the solar wind is as it passes Comet Lovejoy. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Around mid-December, Comet Lovejoy is near the famous Keystone asterism in the constellation Hercules. Look for Comet Lovejoy on the mornings of December 13 and 14 – the peak mornings of the Geminid meteor shower, by the way.
Scott MacNeill at Frosty Drew Observatory in Rhode Island captured the beautiful photo below on November 30. Comet Lovejoy on November 30, 2013 as captured by Scott MacNeill at Frosty Drew Observatory. Comet Lovejoy made its closest approach to Earth on November 19 at a distance of nearly 37 million miles (59 million km).

Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded the website in 1994.
Comet Lovejoy and a passing meteor, or iridium flare, on January 10 as captured by Dale Forrest in Boone, North Carolina. A bright comet graces evening skies this month, assuring that 2015 is already on track to be a great year for astronomy.
Discovered by comet hunter extraordinaire Terry Lovejoy on August 17th, 2014, this denizen of the Oort Cloud has already wowed observers as it approaches its passage perihelion through the inner solar system in the coming week. We’ve been following all Comet Q2 Lovejoy action pretty closely here at Universe Today, from its surreptitious brightening ahead of schedule, to its recent tail disconnection event, to its photogenic passage past the +8.6 magnitude globular cluster Messier 79 (M79) in the constellation Lepus. We recently caught our first sight of Q2 Lovejoy a few evenings ago with our trusty Canon 15x 45 image-stabilized binocs from Mapleton, Maine. Astrophotographers have revealed its long majestic dust and ion tails, as well as the greenish hue characteristic of bright comets. Already, the comet is bright enough and well-placed to the south for northern hemisphere observers that it’s possible to catch astrophotos of the comet along with foreground objects.
If you can find the Big Dipper, you can use it as a starting point to glimpsing Comet Lovejoy throughout December. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website and blogs frequently about astrophysics, the night sky and other topics related to Earth, space and the human world.
On the way into the inner solar system, at this return, its path was indicating an orbital period of roughly 11,500 years.
Comet Lovejoy has grown a super sexy tail and continues to mesmerize!” Thank you, Scott. That green color isn’t kryptonite, but the fluorescing of diatomic carbon and cyanogen gas shed by the comet as it’s struck by ultraviolet sunlight. If you’ve got a tripod mounted DSLR give it a try… it’s as simple as aiming, focusing manually with a wide field of view, and taking 10 to 30 second exposures to see what turns up.

You’ll still need binocs to see it, though it may become visible to the naked eye once the Moon slides out of view later this week. I went out a little later, and from my home in a LPed city with a limit of mag 3 or 4, I saw the diffuse white patch, now close to the stars of Eridanus, with my 15×70 binocs.
She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. And, like the Hare for which Lepus is named, Q2 Lovejoy is now racing rapidly northward, passing into the rambling constellation of Eridanus the River before entering the realm of Taurus the Bull on January 9th and later crossing the ecliptic plane in Aries.
Q2 Lovejoy was just outside of naked eye visibility for us this week, though I suspect that this will change as the Moon moves out of the evening picture this weekend. This greenish color is far more apparent in photographs, though it might just be glimpsed visually if the intrinsic brightness of the coma exceeds expectations. I’m currently in Gujarat although I know different states in the same country have little effect on viewing but thought I would include it anyway.
A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century.
Although magnitude 3.8 ought to make it a naked-eye object, its diffuse fuzziness means that most viewers, who live under light pollution, still need optical aid.
Binoculars are you friend in your comet-hunting quest, as they can be readily deployed in sub-zero January temps and provide a generous field of view.
In binoculars it’s a biggish, gray fuzzball, with a brighter core slightly off center.

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