Winter can get boring waiting for spring to fish, but we can always find entertainment in nature and our solar system. Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2 ) is entering the best two weeks of viewing. This comet will not be around for another 8,000 years. It is a greenish color in the sky not far from the constellation Orion (20° west of Orion’s Belt ). With the moon rising later and later each night the time frame to see this comet will increase and it is just barely visible to he naked eye as a greenish dot in the sky. At a 4th magnitude, it is just about as bright as it’s going to get. Due to the fact the comet looks fuzzy in the sky, viewers in light polluted areas will still need binoculars. The comet Lovejoy is on a northern tract, through Taurus, Aries, and Triangulum, it will be higher and higher in the early evening. Usually we see comets that are yellowish white in color due to the reflection of sunlight from dust around the comet and its tail. The great comets tend to get this way and are the most memorable since they are visible to the naked eye. This green color we see in comet Lovejoy is from diatomic carbon (C2) fluorescing in ultraviolet sunlight. this is the normal color of comet heads.
This should be a cool experience for the kids and adults alike. It is not often you get to see a comet that will not be back for 8,000 years. The beach would be a great place to observe this comet or anywhere away from small towns or cities with a lot of light pollution. If you are out observing the comet Lovejoy in the early morning hours, you will also be treated to the ISS, International Space Station flying over head, there is a timetable below.
International Space station times for the next few days.
|Thu Jan 8, 5:47 AM||6 min||51°||13 above SSW||12 above ENE|
|Fri Jan 9, 4:59 AM||1 min||25°||25 above ESE||18 above E|
|Fri Jan 9, 6:32 AM||6 min||32°||11 above W||10 above NE|
|Sat Jan 10, 5:44 AM||3 min||56°||56 above NNW||11 above NE|
|Sun Jan 11, 4:55 AM||< 1 min||16°||16 above NE||11 above NE|
|Sun Jan 11, 6:28 AM||4 min||18°||14 above NW||10 above NNE|