New Year’s surprise: a comet you can see with the naked eye
Skywatchers are getting an unexpected treat: Comet Lovejoy, which was discovered in August, has brightened, making it visible without a telescope. By Jan. 7, the comet, which is rising in the northern sky, will be appearing to the right of the bottom half of Orion’s bow.
By Pete Spotts, Staff writer / December 30, 2014
Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, is framed like a cosmic Christmas tree with starry decorations in this colorful telescopic portrait, snapped on December 16th. Its lovely coma is tinted green by diatomic C2 gas fluorescing in sunlight. Discovered in August of this year, this Comet Lovejoy (not to be confused with past Comet Lovejoys) is currently sweeping north through the constellation Columba, heading for Lepus south of Orion and bright enough to offer good binocular views. Not its first time through the inner Solar System, this Comet Lovejoy will pass closest to planet Earth on January 7 and then closest to the sun on January 30. A long period comet, this Comet Lovejoy should return again … in about 8,000 years.
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