Comet Lovejoy | How To View It

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is now at peak visibility for the northern hemisphere. This excellent article from Sky & Telescope gives some history, images, and detailed charts. It is a good read. To save you time, I will summarize.

If you have a clear sky, binoculars, or a small telescope, you should be able to see it. It might be visible to some viewers with the naked eye under the best of seeing conditions. Here is a 90 second image from the University of Iowa Robotic Observatory in Arizona taken January 7. To your eyes, it will appear as a fuzzy patch instead of a distinct star point. It might even be a little blue-green.

U of IA | Robotic Observatory

U of IA | Robotic Observatory

What Time?

It will be positioned best for viewing during the evening hours after 6 pm for the next week or two before it starts to dim. The exact time is not critical.

Where To Look?

Look to the right of the constellation Orion in the southeast. Lovejoy will be straight to the south at 8 pm local time. This chart from Sky & Telescope will make it easy to locate. There are some easily recognized sky features along the path such as bright Aldebaran and the Pleiades. Click on the chart. Then make a print out so you can reference it while searching on any of the coming days. Good luck. Clear skies.

©Sky & Telescope

©Sky & Telescope


Many Great Images On The Web

There are many around the world who are viewing Lovejoy each night. Many have high quality imaging equipment and are posting their results on the Spaceweather site. There are many wonderful and beautiful examples on the site. Go take a look now and in the next few days.


21 thoughts on “Comet Lovejoy | How To View It

  1. As you may have deduced, I am fascinated by astronomy. Sadly we live smack in the center of a metro center populated by 5 million people. The light polution is overwhelming as one might expect. But, there’s good news! You blog has reminded me that the mountain tops in Shenandoah National Park offer relatively excellent vantage points for sky viewing, especially to the west and south.

    • I foresee a road trip for you. May the weather cooperate and give you clear skies. I have a couple of good opportunities today and tomorrow.

  2. I’ve yet to see Comet Lovejoy for myself, but as you point out there are lots (and lots!) of great sites to view images. Have you tried photographing it?

  3. Maybe by Thursday…. We’re still wrapped in cloud, drizzle, fog, rain. Every variation of messy precipitation north of 32F is ours. Ah, well.

    I was interested in the note about the greenish cast. When Lulin came through, it was distinctly blue-green in color. Is the color similarity a coincidence, or a function of the physical properties of all comets?

  4. No tail! Waaaah. 😉 Still, I’ll see if I can pick it out of the rest of the dots of light up there! Thanks for the map.

  5. Enticing post with a nice map. I found the comet already on my stargazing app. Now I wait for the clouds to disappear.

  6. It did turn out that way on Friday. Found LoveJoy with the help of your map, the StarMap 3D+ app and 7×50 binoculars. I thought I could recognize it with unaided eyes by looking near (but not at it) as it was fuzzier, bigger and less bright than the rest of the stars around it, but that was marginal. It was actually harder to find it with my birding scope at 20x because the angle of view is so small I get lost trying to find it starting at the Pleiades. As a bonus I could see Jupiter and three of its moons lined up on one side with the binoculars in the eastern sky. Saw it LoveJoy binoculars again last night. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Excellent! You had a very rewarding experience. Wasn’t it great?

      Averted vision is a good technique for dim objects. The cones in our central color vision region are not as sensitive to light as the rods surrounding them.

      Many people go for the high powers not realizing how hard it is to find things. I start on low power, then switch to higher power with an eyepiece change.

      Thanks for trying and kudos for success!

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