Comet Lovejoy was a fantastic comet to both image, and view in medium telescopes.
The image above is my best image from Comet Lovejoy 2015, a single frame taken on February 18th at 8:27pm CST. Comet Lovejoy was discovered by Terry Lovejoy with an 8″ SCT telescope on August 17th 2014. Anyone who thinks that they can’t contribute to astronomy with their little telescope should take note that Terry has discovered five comets so far with his Celestron 8″ SCT mounted on a Vixen Sphinx mount. His equipment is readily available to any amateur astronomer. Admittedly that in addition to a CCD camera is a little more money than many people want to spend (around $4,000 US to start). It certainly is far less than what most people think of when they think of the telescopes used to discover comets and get them named after you.
Imaging & Viewing Comet Lovejoy
I had a lot of fun imaging Comet Lovejoy for two hours on one telescope while I observed it in two other telescopes (my 127mm refactor and the college’s 16″ SCT). With a reasonable quality eyepiece it was pretty easy to see and with a high quality eyepiece that helped to increase the contrast the tail just jumped out at you. When I was viewing it the comet was roughly magnitude 4 making the nucleus (the central region) a naked eye object from a dark site and easily observable with binoculars. When looking at the area it looks like just another star until you really stare and see that it is a little fuzzier than the other stars around it. Once you lift your binoculars up however, it becomes quite obvious. These are the objects that are great fun to take the kids out to see or to go knock on your neighbor’s house and let them have a look. Nothing builds interest in astronomy like this! I can only hope that the next comet to pass earth is this spectacular.
More information and images of Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 can be found on Wikipedia.
Share this post!