Watch Comet 'Lovejoy' through telescopes

Watch Comet 'Lovejoy' through telescopes

Watch Comet 'Lovejoy'  through telescopes

Comet ‘Lovejoy’, formally designated C/2013 R2, is visible in the Northern Hemisphere.

In December, this can be seen in Corona Borealis and Hercules constellations. This is a telescopic comet. It cannot be noticed through naked eyes, but, can be seen with the help of small telescopes and binoculars, from all parts of India. The night sky, clear from moon, is the best time to see this comet.

According to a press note from amateur astronomer S A Mohan Krishna, ‘Lovejoy’ can be seen below Jupiter in the morning sky, close to Cancer and Bootes constellations at 4.30 am. The magnitude is around 5.

‘Lovejoy’ is a spasmodic comet, discovered by Terry Lovejoy on September 7, when it reached its Perihelion. As of September, it remained at magnitude 8, with a short, vague tail, visible telescopically to Northern Hemisphere observers in Monoceres.

Terry Lovejoy discovered this comet on sixteen 90-second exposures obtained using a Canon 350D and a 200mm lens. The images were obtained during a comet-hunting survey that Lovejoy has been conducting for over a year. He estimated the magnitude as 9.5. Lovejoy also noted a green coma 4' across, with a strong central condensation and a slight extension toward the southwest. Comets move in elliptical orbits like planets. But while orbits of planets are nearly circular, the ellipses are highly elongated in the case of comets, with the orbit even becoming nearly parabolic.

Comets, large enough to be detected in the outer solar system, may have thick, insulating crusts, whereas smaller comets may be as insubstantial as a snowball and melt away to fragments as they come closer to the Sun. Comet Lovejoy had passed perihelion one month after the discovery, but was discovered about a day before its closest passage by Earth at 0.44 Astronomical Units (One Astronomical Unit = 14, 96, 00,000 km). This comet reaches perihelion on December 25. A ‘comet’ is a ball of ice and dust that orbits Sun. Professional observatories rarely have time to scan skies in search of new celestial objects, so amateur astronomers, using simple equipment, often discover comets.

Lovejoy began in the month of October in ‘Monoceres’ constellation at a magnitude of 10 and has been getting brighter and larger since October. Although it was low in September, it moved rapidly and can be located very high in the morning sky.

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