Saturday 10 January 2015

Naked Eye Comet Lovejoy

After a day at work where the only view of the outside I had in twelve hours were snatches of the Showground fields being wheeled over by gulls painted scorching white by the sun, I was glad to return home to dark clear skies.

A chance to get the binoculars out again, and hunt down Comet Lovejoy.

I headed out into the garden, knowing that the comet was now skulking in a very undistinguished part of the sky in the badlands between Cetus and Taurus but thinking it might take a bit of finding. But before I even put my 10x50s to my wind blasted eyes, I felt I could see a very very dim blur with averted vision.

And I must have been right, because the comet was in the field of view as soon as I looked.

The comet looks markedly different with the moon out of the way. Easier to see, obviously, but also more condensed. It is a definite grey-green tear drop shape now, and there might just have been a very faint hint of tail.

As I became more dark adapted, it became clear that the comet was visible to the naked eye with averted vision, although it felt like I was straining my eyes so hard they began to stream. I'd put the magnitude at about 4.5 perhaps a little better, and far easier to see than the open cluster Messier 34 in Perseus not too far away, by means of comparison with another fuzzy object. It looked smaller than Andromeda, but more condensed at its core.

It is past nearest point to Earth now, that was a few days ago when the moon was still a nuisance, but it may still get a little brighter as it reaches perihelion in a week or two.


  1. My partner saw it quite clearly in Northants the other day. I'm not so good at picking celestial objects out, and my excuse is that it was rather cold for hanging around!

    1. Thanks for dropping by! Managed to get another look tonight, but thousand mile and hour winds and comet watching not a terribly easy combination either!