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In The Wake of Comet ISON comes Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy

Poor Comet ISON was torn apart as it traveled around the Sun around Thanksgiving this year.  And as we mourn the loss of Comet ISON we can still rejoice in the fact that there is another comet to be seen in our night sky with a pair of binoculars.  Comet Lovejoy, also known as C/2011 R1, was first discovered by amateur astronomer, Terry Lovejoy, and is known as a long-period comet.  This northern-hemisphere object was discovered on September 7 2013 and can currently be seen as it travels from Bootes across the constellations of Corona Borealis and Hercules.

Come Lovejoy as seen through binoculars.

Come Lovejoy as seen through binoculars.

Comet Lovejoy was first observed as a 14th magnitude comet but has since brightened to a 4th magnitude.

Its bright and condensed head can be seen with binoculars as it travels across the northern sky and its fainter tail can be viewed via telescope or a digital camera with time exposure.

It takes about 7000 years for Comet Lovejoy to make a trip around the sun.

C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy)

The path of Comet Lovejoy in December and January

By November 1 2013 the comet was visible to the naked eye near the Beehive Cluster (M44), about halfway between Jupiter and Regulus.  Through binoculars, the comet has the appearance of a green, unresolved globular cluster.

From December 12 until January 14 2014, the comet will be in the constellation Hercules.  On December 14 2013 it passed the star Zeta Herculis.  C/2013 R1 made its closest approach to Earth on November 19, 2013 and on the 27th of the same month the comet was in the constellation of Canes Venatici, near the bottom of the handle of the Big Dipper.  From November 28 until December 4 2013, the comet was in the constellation Boötes. On December 1 2013 it passed the star Beta Boötis.  From December 4 until December 12 2013, the comet was in the constellation Corona Borealis.

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