Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

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Alastair McBeath
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by Alastair McBeath »

A much quieter, clearer night than anticipated yesterday (Jan 12-13), provided another opportunity for a unaided-eye view of Comet Lovejoy for me, with no Moon or problematic clouds intervening for once, around 19:00-19:30 UT. The sky had some light haze, so the limiting magnitude wasn't ideal, at +5.6, but even so I first spotted the comet without optical aid (albeit with averted vision - I estimated it was about magnitude +5.2 or so from my view of it thus). In the 7x50s, I found the usual rounded misty patch, with a brighter though not especially starlike central area to the coma, surrounded by a brighter disc, beyond which was an increasingly faint outer region, melting away into the sky background. The brightest disc of the coma I estimated at about half a degree across, the outer region maybe three-quarters of a degree or perhaps a little more. However, as previously, I also found this more distant part of the coma was elongated particularly towards the east and northeast, and here the maximum coma dimension seemed about a degree.

I had the impression too there may have been a very faint fan of tails extending this region of the coma still further, whose relatively brighter parts lay towards the east and northeast, forming a "V" from the centre of the coma. The more southerly of these, the possible eastern tail, seemed relatively short and broad, extending maybe 1.5° from the coma's middle, while the northeastern one was narrower but a little longer, perhaps up to 1.75° from that same central point. However, this longer "tail" was pointing almost towards the brighter field star 30 Tauri, so may just have been one of those "join-the-dots" illusions that sometimes happens when trying to view objects near the edge of visibility. All these potential tail structures were difficult to detect with averted vision though, even using all the tricks of the comet-observing trade to help. At best, I felt they were probably real enough to warrant recording, if not necessarily "objectively real"!
brian livesey
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by brian livesey »

"And here we wander in illusions..."

"Comedy of Errors", W. Shakespeare.
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by nigeljoslin »

Truth or wispful thinking...that is the question! :wink:
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mike a feist
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by mike a feist »

Tuesday 13th January 2014: I awoke at 2300 to see that there was a break in the clouds. I went outside into the back garden only to find that the comet was hidden behind the house and so ventured along the alleyway with the 7x50 to the road and from there the comet was located at about 2312. In the binoculars it appeared as a surprisingly bright glowing "ball", making an equilateral triangle with 4 and 5 Tauri, above omicron and xi Tauri. It was then observed from the front-room window using the 8x30 Hensoldt until it disappeared into cloud at 2330. [Obs #10] regards maf
Gregger
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by Gregger »

Nice observation, wish I'd kept my 16" now

Whilst in the hot tub last night the clouds parted and Lovejoy was unaided eye with averted vision. Confirmed with the Canon binos, (whilst still in the hot tub - lovely). I therefore unfortunately had to get out and made a brief observation (in my dressing gown) with teh 100mm's before the cloud gap closed. A brighter and bigger core than Saturday - a great quick view.
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by nigeljoslin »

Yes, Gregger...Your 16" would have been handy. I joked about wispful thinking, but using my 14" I know that I did see tail detail and it wasn't an illusion! I also got a beautiful view of the compact little core and its coma.

Nevertheless, I also intend to have a peep through the 4" for a more extended view, as at the relatively high magnification of 66x I had to wander along the long, thin tail quite a bit. But...whether I'll actually see it with 4".....this is the tip in the scales! :D
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Alastair McBeath
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by Alastair McBeath »

Pleasing to manage two consecutive nights' observations of Comet Lovejoy this year finally, after the evening clouds and light snowfall had moved off on Jan 13-14, around 21:55-22:10 UT. There was a hard frost by then, and the thin, patchy, wet snow cover had turned to ice, which made getting outdoors in the dark "interesting", but it was fascinating to see my footprints this morning, melted into the icy snow where I'd stood gazing at the comet, but without any obvious marks leading to or from the spot because of the ice!

The comet appeared much as it had the previous night to me, again first picked-up with the unaided eye (a slightly hazy limiting magnitude +5.6 sky once more) before turning the 7x50s on it for a more detailed view. About the only real change, a minor one, was that the "V"-shaped fan of tails seemed a little clearer than on Jan 12-13. So I'm more convinced this aspect was real now! The unaided appearance remained that of a faint, slightly misty, star, however, around magnitude +5.2 to my eyes, so best visible with averted vision.
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by mike a feist »

Thursday 15th January 2015: Prior to setting out to the FT Astronomers Meeting, i managed to just about pick up the comet between clouds at 1830 to 1840 using my 8x30 Hensoldt binoculars and on the way had a good view on the track behind Southdown Road (where I used to live and first did my observing!). Once at Emmaus (where the meetings are now held) I had another good view at 1925 and again later during the refreshment break. This time I also saw the comet through a member's spotting scope (one that I sold to him many years ago!). On returning home I set up the Opticron IS60 scope in the garden around 2200. The comet was roughly between 5 Tauri and delta Arietis and very close to the border between these constellations and about 10 degrees from The Pleiades. The comet appeared as a obvious fuzzy "ball" with indistinct edges and the "false nucleus" was clearly not stellar. I attempted to capture the comet by using a time exposure (13 sec I think!) with the camera handheld at the eyepiece at lowest zoom.....a poor photograph resulted but at least a fuzzy patch was recorded. ( The only other comets photographed have been Hale-Bopp and Holmes.) [Obs #11] regards maf
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by Alastair McBeath »

Another disappointingly violent phase during the unending storm that 2015 has apparently become did at least provide occasional clearer spells, sufficient to allow another sighting of Comet Lovejoy last night for me, around 19:15-19:25 UT on Jan 15-16. No chance for a visual sighting, with far too much rapidly-moving cloud, haze and near-continual light rain, or worse, but the 7x50s showed it as well as ever, maybe magnitude +5.3 to +5.4 or so, with the familiar large, misty rounded coma and the fan of tails extending more than a degree from the coma's centre. Not much time to pick out any greater detail, and no improvement in conditions later, regrettably. Still, better than nothing!
Gregger
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by Gregger »

Indeed a snatched view in a cloud, just before bed time in my dressing gown last night, showed a lovely brighter comet and I too fancied a tail in the 9' o'clock position through the 100mm binos. Tonights weathter looks promising.
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mike a feist
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by mike a feist »

Friday, 16th January 1745-1800; While pointing it out to a visitor to my garden who 'wanted to see the comet', he aptly described the binocular view of the asterism above it (consisting of tau2, tau1, zeta and delta Arietis) as like a parachute supporting the fuzzy comet underneath. I continued observing the comet, on and off during the evening in 8x30 regards and had some good views. The comet and the Pleiades were at opposite extremes of the fov and this is equal to the distance from Saiph to Rigel. Having had a little success previously at capturing a faint image of the comet through the Opticron IS60, I attempted the same using the 102mmF5 at x25 and with the Canon digital set at 10-secs and rested against the eyepiece at 2208 and 2213. Some shake but a much brighter image and when printed out in the shop the fuzzy comet was visibly green![Obs #12] regards maf
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by Alastair McBeath »

Despite quite a lot of fast-moving cloud, I managed a fresh sighting of Comet Lovejoy in reasonably clear skies on Jan 16-17 at various times between 19:05-19:25 UT, first with the 7x50s, then with the unaided-eye. With a limiting magnitude of +5.5, based on the relative ease with which I could see the comet unaided, I estimated it was about magnitude +5.2 to +5.3 or so, quite a large misty patch that way. It's now in Aries, and was about as close as it will get to the Pleiades star cluster, M45, a little over the circa 7° binocular field away. In the binoculars, the comet looked much as it has to me for the last few observations, a rounded, bright, misty coma, gradually brighter towards the centre, with a much fainter "V"-shaped fan of tails extending off towards the east and northeast. The tails seemed especially faint and tricky however, possibly because of the frequent breaks in sightings due to the clouds, though still somewhat over a degree in length from the coma's centre in what I could trace.
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by mike a feist »

Saturday 17th January, The weather forecast was bad and the sky cloudy but at 1835 the Hyades, Pleiades and Comet Lovejoy were visible though the 'thin bits' using the 7x50 Fujinon binoculars from the garden.The comet now made an isosceles triangle with zeta and delta Arietis. This was an unexpected observation but even more surprising was that the comet could still be seen an hour later and even half-an-hour after that! [Obs #13] regards maf
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by trynda1701 »

Saturday 17th January 2015. Finally got to see Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 after all the foul weather we've had with the three big storms over the last week.

Even though the observation was from indoors, at 23:30UT, spotted Lovejoy in my CZJ 10x50W's easily, just east of the line formed by the stars Zeta and Delta Arietis (Botein), and about a third of the way down from Zeta to Delta. Even though the transparency wasn't great at that altitude, and my window was slightly misted due to the cold outside, it was a good observation. Spotted as a fuzzy ball, slightly assymetrical? Not sure about magnitude, seemed brighter when defocusing stars than Tau 2 Arietis (mag 5.1) to the north east, but fainter than Delta (mag 4.3). Perhaps others with more experience at estimating magnitudes can comment if they see it tonight? Followed the comet till midnight.

Another simple yet satisfying observation made!

Mark
Last edited by trynda1701 on Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:22 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Comet Lovejoy C/2014Q2 New Year Comet

Post by Alastair McBeath »

Jan 17-18 was fairly clear again at times in these parts, though with a quantity of slow-moving, hazy clouds through the first half of the night especially, which created problems for defining much detail in Comet Lovejoy, especially that often elusive "V"-fan of possible tail structures. However, I managed another observation with the 7x50s from 18:25-18:35 UT before conditions were too problematic, though it was only half an hour later that the near-comet sky was clear enough to spot it without optical aid too, albeit briefly. It seemed roughly magnitude +5.3 or so that way to me, the usual faint, misty "large star" in form. Not the best of sessions, but pleasing to have the comet so close to an interesting group of moderately bright stars for once, particularly 63, Tau, Zeta and Delta Arietis in an arc above Lovejoy.
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