Comet Lovejoy, or C/2014 Q2, will be visible to amateur stargazers with the naked eye for the coming ten days. That is if they try doing so under low-light environments. The greenish looking comet will make its closest approach to our planet in the coming days.
Lovejoy is all set to cross the celestial equator tonight, meaning thereby that it will best be seen from the Northern hemisphere. It’s about 70,200,000 kilometers (43,600,000 miles) away at the moment and gets its greenish glow from diatomic carbon gas fluorescing in the sun’s light.
“The comet is still falling sunwards at present and will reach its closest point to our neighborhood star (the perihelion) on January 30 before heading out into space again. After that closish encounter it will gradually grow dimmer and be lost,” told TheRegister.
The comet is a rare visitor and the last time it came this close to Earth was 11,000 years ago. After this rendezvous, it is not expected to come so close to earth for the next 8000 years.
“Should we get a clear sky, comet Lovejoy should appear to the right side of the constellations Orion and Taurus, now visible in the southern sky,” said Bruce Palmquist, physics and science education professor at Central Washington University.
Palmquist also blogs about celestial matters on at “What’s Up in the Ellensburg Washington Sky” and for the Daily Record.
To see the comet, viewers should face due south, and look to the three stars that make up Orion’s belt.
“The comet should appear a little to the right of Orion’s belt or the snout of Taurus the bull,” he said. “With binoculars or a small telescope, you should be able to see it clearly. It will look sort of fuzzy, like a cotton ball.”
“The best time to see the comet should be after 8 p.m.,” he continued. “And it’s best to find a place away from any city lights — easy to do in our area.”
Comet Lovejoy has been named after the Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy in August 2014. Lovejoy has discovered five comets till date. The comet was the closest to our Earth on January 7- only 44 million miles away!