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Mon, 06 Apr 2015 - Comet Lovejoy still around!

Comet Lovejoy on 5 April. The brightest stars in this view are magnitude 8

Comet 2014 Q2 Lovejoy, discovered last August by prolific comet-hunter Terry Lovejoy, remains easily observable using binoculars and small telescopes. It is now about seventh magnitude and is observable all night in Cassiopeia, though it is highest during the early evening.

Good binoculars will just show it, but a telescope will give a better view. Don't expect a miniature version of Halley's Comet – it is just a fuzzy blob. But comets even as bright as this don't come along all the time, so make the most of it. Find Cassiopeia over in the north after about 10 pm when the sky gets properly dark, and use the map below to find the comet from there.

During April it moves away from the W of Cassiopeia towards Polaris, which it passes at the end of May, though it may be too faint to be easily observable by then.

To obtain actual positions (an ephemeris), suitable for setting Go To telescopes, go to the SPA/BAA Comet Section page. In the blue section at the bottom, scroll down and click on Comet Ephemerides, then choose Comet Lovejoy.

Comet Lovejoy's track during April and May 2015. Ticks mark its position at midnight on the date shown. You can get a more detailed chart, with black stars on a white background suitable for printing, showing stars to about 9th magnitude, by clicking on the image.

Photo gallery

The comet on the evening of 13 January, showing a fine tail as it passes star clusters the Hyades and the Pleiades in Taurus. Photo by Paul Sutherland from Walmer, Kent.
Nick Hart took this shot on 16 January from Newport, South Wales, through a 200 mm reflector. The comet and star images were stacked separately and combined in software
A view by Ian Sharp in Spain on 19 January using a 200 mm telephoto lens, showing the tail extending to the Pleiades star cluster. Click for full image and here for a wide-field view using an 85 mm lens that includes the California Nebula.
A combination of 12 60-second images through a 200 mm f/4 telescope on 18 January, using a Canon 5D Mk II camera at ISO 1600. SPA Forum member MeteorB took the image from near Kilwinning, Ayrshire and 'had to aggressively stretch the image to get a decent impression of the tail. 'The picture is in mono to hide very poor colour balance due to hideous light pollution.' Click to enlarge
Ralph Smyth of Lisburn, N. Ireland, tweeted this image from 18 January made using a DSLR camera and an 80 mm ED refractor. Click to enlarge
The comet on 6 March, photographed through an 80 mm refractor using a Canon 70D DSLR by Robin Scagell
The comet at its best last January


Added by: Robin Scagell