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Saturday, November 02, 2013


Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy is Visible in Binoculars (3 November - 8 November 2013)

Morning sky on Sunday November 3 looking north north-east as seen from Adelaide at 5:00 am ACST in South Australia. Comet C/2013 R1 Lovejoy is to the right of  Jupiter, just above the Beehive cluster. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen).Binocular chart showing the location of C/2013 R1 Lovejoy over the next few days. The chart us in the same orientation as the spotters chart at the same time. The circle is the approximate field of view of 10x50 binoculars (click to embiggen).

While all eyes have been on comet C/2012 S1 ISON, another comet has been quietly brightening. C/2013 R1 Lovejoy is Australian Terry Lovejoy's 4th comet (you may remember C/2011 W3 Lovejoy). It has been over performing, and is currently magnitude 7 and easily visible in binoculars. It is a good target if you are up early looking for ISON.

The comet should brighten more over the coming week, and will be very close to the iconic Beehive cluster on the 7th and 8th of November. This should be a great photo opportunity. The comet has a distinct coma, and a very thin tail which is really only visible on long exposure images with telescopes. In binoculars it will look like a fuzzy blob.

This week the comet is to the right of Jupiter between two of the main stars of the constellation Cancer, Beta and Delta Canceri, so sweeping with binoculars or a telescope between these stars should net you the comet. The best time to see it is in the early monring, before Astronomical twilight (90 minutes before local sunrise). As I mentioned above it will be very close to the iconic Beehive cluster on the 7th and 8th of November.

A printable PDF chart is here.

The comet is closest to Earth on 19 November, but it will be too deep in the twilight to see from Australia. We should see it brighten to unaided eye visibility (magnitude 6) by the middle of November.

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