December 30, 2014 8:00 pm

End the Year on a Celestial High Note by Spotting a Green Comet

Image of Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy Near Globular Cluster M79, Taken by Rolando Ligustri

Image: Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy Near Globular Cluster M79, Taken by Rolando Ligustri on December 29, 2014 from Australia near SSO. Image Credit: Rolando Ligustri Acknowledgement: Spaceweather.com, via Friends of NASA on Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/101062277675278137146/113507009175485747967/posts/VKRDrtuoqgd)

Want to end the year on a celestial high note?

Get outside with your binoculars or telescope around 11pm local time and look due south for the latest Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2), a bright green comet that had a magnitude of 5.0 as of last night and is still growing in brightness. (By local time, we mean 11 PM wherever you happen to be.)

According to Sky and Telescope the comet will be entering its brightest time around January 7th, when the new moon means less light competition. It should hit a magnitude of 4.1 by then, but even if you head out tonight you should get a great show. Click here for Finder Charts so you can spot the comet easily.

If you do feel like waiting until after the new year, Phil Plait says you’ll be able to see Lovejoy with the naked eye. Phil’s got a great post here complete with some excellent photos.

By the way, if you’re wondering why this Comet Lovejoy has been referred to as “the fifth Comet Lovejoy” and “the latest Comet Lovejoy” it’s because it was discovered by Terry Lovejoy, an amateur astronomer from Australia who has discovered 5 comets so far.

This will be our last post for 2014, so let me just take a moment to thank you all for reading the StarTalk Radio blog this year. We appreciate all of your comments, whether positive or negative, and knowing that you are out there reading the blog is invaluable to us here at StarTalk.

That’s it for 2014. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons