Comet and Cluster
Comet Lovejoy passes near the globular cluster M79 in this image from Saturday, December 27.
Here is the comet that is making the news, as it comes into view in northern skies, now sporting a decent tail of gas streaming away from its cyan-coloured head.
Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is proving to be a fine photogenic comet and an easy target for binoculars. Visually it still looks like a large fuzzy star, though I could spy a sign of a faint tail on Saturday night, at least through binoculars.
This weekend it passed the small, faint globular cluster Messier 79, seen here at upper right. It was very close to M79 Sunday night, but alas, clouds blew in, obscuring the view from here in New Mexico.
The Moon is now in the sky with the comet, leaving no dark sky time to see the comet after moonset. That will be the case for another two weeks or so. But by mid January the Moon will be gone and the comet will be much higher in the sky, moving up through Taurus.
From a dark site, it may be easily visible to the naked eye at that time, a surprising bonus for the winter, as this comet was never expected to get this bright.
Thank you, Terry Lovejoy, for finding your comets in Australia and sending them our way!
– Alan, December 28 / © 2014 Alan Dyer / www.amazingsky.com