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This year is turning out to be a bumper year for comets. We have already seen two naked eye comets in PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) and Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6), with much anticipated ISON (C/2012 S1) still to hit its best as it heads towards next month's perihelion.

To add to the mix periodic comet Encke (2P/Encke) is currently visible in the morning skies. Although not naked eye, Encke should reach binocular magnitude during November. In addition, one more recently discovered comet could also soon hit the fringe of naked eye brightness; its name comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1).


Australian Terry Lovejoy, an information technologist and amateur astronomer discovered the comet on September 7, 2013. He imaged it at mag. +14.4 with a digital camera attached to his 200mm (8-inch) Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.

Incredibly, this is the fourth comet discovered by Lovejoy in the space of just 6 years. One previous discovery of particular note was C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy), the first Kreutz Sungrazing comet discovered by ground-based observation for more than 40 years.

Location, magnitude and star chart

Comet Lovejoy is a well-placed early morning object during October from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It remains in good condition for Northern Hemisphere observers for the remainder of the year and well into 2014. However, those located in the Southern Hemisphere aren't so lucky; Lovejoy won't be observable from mid-November to early February.

The comet started October moving at a leisurely pace through Monoceros before crossing the constellation border into Canis Minor on October 17th. During this time it brightened by over a magnitude (from +10.3 to +9.0) and to within small telescope range. The comet could also be glimpsed with large 20x80 binoculars although remained beyond the reach of popular 10x50 binoculars. However that will hopefully change soon, Lovejoy is predicted to reach magnitude +5.9 by the end of November.

On October 26th, Lovejoy passes less than a degree north of first magnitude star Procyon (α CMi - mag. +0.34). It remains in Canis Minor until October 30th, before passing into Cancer. On November 7th, Lovejoy is located just south of M44 "the Praesepe" open cluster. It then moves briefly into Leo from November 11th to November 14th. On the 14th, Lovejoy should be at about magnitude +6.3 and an easy small telescope and binocular object.

The finder chart below shows the positions of Comet Lovejoy from October 14 to November 7, 2013.

Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) Finder Chart from October 14 to November 7, 2013

Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) Finder Chart from October 14 to November 7, 2013 - pdf format

C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) Data (at epoch September 23, 2013)

NameC/2013 R1 (Lovejoy)
DiscovererTerry Lovejoy
Discovery dateSeptember 7, 2013
Aphelion (AU)678.767
Perihelion (AU)0.81161
Semi-major axis339.789
Orbital period (years)6263.58
Inclination (degrees)64.0403
Longitude of ascending node (degrees)70.7012
PerihelionDecember 25th, 2013
NotesFourth comet discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationEstimated MagnitudeDistance from Earth (AU)Constellation
01 Oct 201306h 36m 13s-03d 26m 23s10.31.357Monoceros
02 Oct 201306h 38m 04s-03d 14m 16s10.31.332Monoceros
03 Oct 201306h 39m 57s-03d 01m 39s10.21.308Monoceros
04 Oct 201306h 41m 51s-02d 48m 30s10.11.284Monoceros
05 Oct 201306h 43m 48s-02d 34m 48s10.01.259Monoceros
06 Oct 201306h 45m 47s-02d 20m 28s10.01.235Monoceros
07 Oct 201306h 47m 47s-02d 05m 31s9.91.210Monoceros
08 Oct 201306h 49m 50s-01d 49m 52s9.81.186Monoceros
09 Oct 201306h 51m 56s-01d 33m 29s9.81.162Monoceros
10 Oct 201306h 54m 05s-01d 16m 19s9.71.138Monoceros
11 Oct 201306h 56m 16s-00d 58m 20s9.61.113Monoceros
12 Oct 201306h 58m 30s-00d 39m 27s9.51.089Monoceros
13 Oct 201307h 00m 48s-00d 19m 37s9.41.065Monoceros
14 Oct 201307h 03m 10s00d 01m 13s9.41.041Monoceros
15 Oct 201307h 05m 35s00d 23m 08s9.31.017Monoceros
16 Oct 201307h 08m 05s00d 46m 13s9.20.993Monoceros
17 Oct 201307h 10m 39s01d 10m 32s9.10.969Monoceros
18 Oct 201307h 13m 18s01d 36m 11s9.00.946Canis Minor
19 Oct 201307h 16m 03s02d 03m 15s8.90.922Canis Minor
20 Oct 201307h 18m 53s02d 31m 50s8.80.899Canis Minor
21 Oct 201307h 21m 50s03d 02m 03s8.80.875Canis Minor
22 Oct 201307h 24m 53s03d 34m 01s8.70.852Canis Minor
23 Oct 201307h 28m 04s04d 07m 53s8.60.829Canis Minor
24 Oct 201307h 31m 23s04d 43m 45s8.50.806Canis Minor
25 Oct 201307h 34m 51s05d 21m 49s8.40.784Canis Minor
26 Oct 201307h 38m 29s06d 02m 12s8.30.761Canis Minor
27 Oct 201307h 42m 18s06d 45m 05s8.20.739Canis Minor
28 Oct 201307h 46m 18s07d 30m 41s8.10.717Canis Minor
29 Oct 201307h 50m 31s08d 19m 09s8.00.695Canis Minor
30 Oct 201307h 54m 58s09d 10m 43s7.90.674Canis Minor
31 Oct 201307h 59m 40s10d 05m 36s7.80.653Cancer
01 Nov 201308h 04m 40s11d 04m 01s7.70.632Cancer
02 Nov 201308h 09m 59s12d 06m 12s7.60.612Cancer
03 Nov 201308h 15m 38s13d 12m 21s7.50.592Cancer
04 Nov 201308h 21m 41s14d 22m 42s7.30.573Cancer
05 Nov 201308h 28m 09s15d 37m 26s7.20.554Cancer
06 Nov 201308h 35m 07s16d 56m 42s7.10.536Cancer
07 Nov 201308h 42m 35s18d 20m 36s7.00.519Cancer
08 Nov 201308h 50m 39s19d 49m 09s6.90.502Cancer
09 Nov 201308h 59m 21s21d 22m 16s6.80.486Cancer
10 Nov 201309h 08m 46s22d 59m 44s6.70.472Cancer
11 Nov 201309h 18m 59s24d 41m 07s6.60.458Cancer
12 Nov 201309h 30m 02s26d 25m 49s6.50.445Leo
13 Nov 201309h 42m 01s28d 12m 56s6.40.434Leo
14 Nov 201309h 54m 59s30d 01m 19s6.30.424Leo
15 Nov 201310h 08m 59s31d 49m 28s6.20.415Leo Minor
16 Nov 201310h 24m 04s33d 35m 40s6.20.408Leo Minor
17 Nov 201310h 40m 13s35d 17m 53s6.10.403Leo Minor
18 Nov 201310h 57m 25s36d 53m 59s6.00.399Ursa Major
19 Nov 201311h 15m 33s38d 21m 49s6.00.397Ursa Major
20 Nov 201311h 34m 29s39d 39m 22s6.00.397Ursa Major
21 Nov 201311h 54m 02s40d 44m 57s5.90.398Ursa Major
22 Nov 201312h 13m 56s41d 37m 22s5.90.401Canes Venatici
23 Nov 201312h 33m 55s42d 15m 60s5.90.406Canes Venatici
24 Nov 201312h 53m 43s42d 40m 52s5.90.412Canes Venatici
25 Nov 201313h 13m 02s42d 52m 34s5.90.420Canes Venatici
26 Nov 201313h 31m 40s42d 52m 09s5.90.429Canes Venatici
27 Nov 201313h 49m 24s42d 41m 01s5.90.439Canes Venatici
28 Nov 201314h 06m 09s42d 20m 43s5.90.451Canes Venatici
29 Nov 201314h 21m 50s41d 52m 52s6.00.464Boötes
30 Nov 201314h 36m 25s41d 18m 58s6.00.478Boötes
01 Dec 201314h 49m 55s40d 40m 25s6.00.492Boötes
02 Dec 201315h 02m 23s39d 58m 26s6.10.508Boötes
03 Dec 201315h 13m 52s39d 14m 00s6.10.524Boötes
04 Dec 201315h 24m 26s38d 27m 60s6.10.541Boötes
05 Dec 201315h 34m 09s37d 41m 03s6.20.559Corona Borealis
06 Dec 201315h 43m 06s36d 53m 43s6.20.577Corona Borealis
07 Dec 201315h 51m 21s36d 06m 22s6.30.595Corona Borealis
08 Dec 201315h 58m 57s35d 19m 20s6.30.614Corona Borealis
09 Dec 201316h 05m 59s34d 32m 48s6.40.633Corona Borealis
10 Dec 201316h 12m 29s33d 46m 57s6.40.652Corona Borealis
11 Dec 201316h 18m 32s33d 01m 52s6.40.672Corona Borealis
12 Dec 201316h 24m 08s32d 17m 38s6.50.692Corona Borealis
13 Dec 201316h 29m 22s31d 34m 16s6.50.712 Hercules
14 Dec 201316h 34m 15s30d 51m 47s6.60.732Hercules
15 Dec 201316h 38m 49s30d 10m 12s6.60.752Hercules
16 Dec 201316h 43m 06s29d 29m 29s6.70.772Hercules
17 Dec 201316h 47m 08s28d 49m 37s6.70.792Hercules
18 Dec 201316h 50m 56s28d 10m 34s6.80.812Hercules
19 Dec 201316h 54m 30s27d 32m 19s6.80.832Hercules
20 Dec 201316h 57m 54s26d 54m 51s6.80.853Hercules
21 Dec 201317h 01m 07s26d 18m 06s6.90.873Hercules
22 Dec 201317h 04m 10s25d 42m 03s6.90.892Hercules
23 Dec 201317h 07m 04s25d 06m 41s7.00.912Hercules
24 Dec 201317h 09m 50s24d 31m 58s7.00.932Hercules
25 Dec 201317h 12m 29s23d 57m 52s7.10.951Hercules
26 Dec 201317h 15m 01s23d 24m 23s7.10.971Hercules
27 Dec 201317h 17m 27s22d 51m 27s7.20.990Hercules
28 Dec 201317h 19m 47s22d 19m 05s7.21.009Hercules
29 Dec 201317h 22m 02s21d 47m 15s7.31.027Hercules
30 Dec 201317h 24m 12s21d 15m 57s7.31.046Hercules
31 Dec 201317h 26m 18s20d 45m 09s7.41.064Hercules
See also

Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) remains visible with binoculars and small telescopes
Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) a January 2014 binocular comet
Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) continues to impress into December 2013
Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) a naked eye Northern Hemisphere comet during December
Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) remains a naked eye object, easy with binoculars
Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) reaches naked eye brightness
Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) visible with binoculars