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The brightest comet that can be seen in the night sky at the moment is comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2). At the end of December it was a superb binocular/telescope sight, faintly visible to naked eye as it moved through the southern constellations of Columba and Lepus. The comet then continued to brighten until peaking at magnitude +3.9 during closest approach to the Earth on January 7th. On this day it was 0.469 AU (70.2 million km or 43.6 million miles) distant from our planet and although the bright Moon somewhat interfered, the comet was easily visible with binoculars and small scopes as a large hazy circular patch of light. When imaged or photographed it displayed a long thin wispy green tail that extended over 10 degrees in length.

Now fading Lovejoy remains excellently placed for observation from the Northern Hemisphere during February. As the month progresses it's expected to fade from magnitude +4.8 to +6.3. For the first part of February the comet should still be visible to the naked eye and will remain an easy binocular and small telescope target for quite sometime to come.

From southern latitudes the comet maybe glimpsed low down above the northern horizon at the start of February. However, for these observers it isn't long before it disappears from view completely. On January 30, Lovejoy reaches perihelion (closest point to the Sun) at 1.2908 AU equivalent to 193.1 million kilometres or 120 million miles.

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy on November 26, 2014 (Jose Chambo/Siding Spring Obs. Australia)

Location and star chart

During February, Lovejoy continues its northwesterly motion against the background stars. The comet starts the month in southeastern Andromeda close to the border with Triangulum and Perseus. On February 1st it's located 4 degrees southeast of star Almach (γ And - mag. +2.1) and is expected to shine at magnitude +4.8. Over the next few nights the comet moves closer to Almach and on February 5th the two objects are separated by only 0.5 degrees.

Although Lovejoy is now moving away from the Earth and heading into deep space it still moves reasonably quickly against the night sky backdrop. It's possible to notice its motion from one night to the next and even in a single observing session. On February 20th/21st the comet passes less than half a degree west of M76, the Little Dumbbell nebula in Perseus. At magnitude +10.1 and spanning 2.7 x 1.8 arc minutes this planetary nebula is one of the faintest, smallest and difficult objects in Messier's catalogue.

February offers an excellent opportunity for northern-based observers to follow comet Lovejoy. It based high in the sky and should be visible through binoculars or small scopes as a fading fuzzy nebulous patch of light that may even appear slightly greenish with a small tail.

The finder charts below show the positions of the comet from January 18th to March 1, 2015.

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) Finder Chart from January 28th to March 1, 2015

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) Finder Chart from January 28th to March 1, 2015 - pdf format

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) Finder Chart from January 18th to January 30th, 2015

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) Finder Chart from January 18th to January 30th, 2015 - pdf format

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) Data (at epoch December 9, 2014)

NameC/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)
TypeComet
DiscovererTerry Lovejoy
Discovery dateAugust 17, 2014
Perihelion (AU)1.29077
Eccentricity0.99809
Orbital period (years)~8000
Inclination (degrees) 80.3021
Longitude of ascending node (degrees)94.9937
Perihelion January 30th, 2015

Comet (C2014/Q2) Lovejoy Data Table

DateRight AscensionDeclinationMag.Distance from Earth (AU)Constellation
January 28, 201502h 31m 08s35d 12m 32s+4.60.697Triangulum
January 29, 201502h 27m 42s36d 17m 21s+4.60.716Triangulum
January 30, 201502h 24m 25s37d 18m 50s+4.70.734Triangulum
January 31, 201502h 21m 15s38d 17m 13s+4.80.752Andromeda
February 01, 201502h 18m 14s39d 12m 43s+4.80.771Andromeda
February 02, 201502h 15m 21s40d 05m 32s+4.90.790Andromeda
February 03, 201502h 12m 35s40d 55m 53s+5.00.809Andromeda
February 04, 201502h 09m 56s41d 43m 55s+5.10.828Andromeda
February 05, 201502h 07m 24s42d 29m 48s+5.10.848Andromeda
February 06, 201502h 04m 59s43d 13m 42s+5.20.867Andromeda
February 07, 201502h 02m 40s43d 55m 46s+5.20.887Andromeda
February 08, 201502h 00m 28s44d 36m 08s+5.30.906Andromeda
February 09, 201501h 58m 21s45d 14m 54s+5.30.926Andromeda
February 10, 201501h 56m 20s45d 52m 13s+5.40.945Andromeda
February 11, 201501h 54m 24s46d 28m 10s+5.40.965Andromeda
February 12, 201501h 52m 34s47d 02m 51s+5.50.984Andromeda
February 13, 201501h 50m 49s47d 36m 22s+5.51.004Andromeda
February 14, 201501h 49m 08s48d 08m 49s+5.61.023Perseus
February 15, 201501h 47m 32s48d 40m 15s+5.61.043Andromeda
February 16, 201501h 46m 01s49d 10m 46s+5.71.062Andromeda
February 17, 201501h 44m 34s49d 40m 25s+5.71.081Andromeda
February 18, 201501h 43m 11s50d 09m 16s+5.71.100Andromeda
February 19, 201501h 41m 52s50d 37m 23s+5.81.119Andromeda
February 20, 201501h 40m 37s51d 04m 49s+5.81.139Perseus
February 21, 201501h 39m 26s51d 31m 37s+5.91.157Perseus
February 22, 201501h 38m 18s51d 57m 50s+5.91.176Perseus
February 23, 201501h 37m 14s52d 23m 30s+6.01.195Perseus
February 24, 201501h 36m 13s52d 48m 41s+6.11.214Perseus
February 25, 201501h 35m 15s53d 13m 24s+6.11.232Perseus
February 26, 201501h 34m 20s53d 37m 41s+6.21.250Perseus
February 27, 201501h 33m 28s54d 01m 34s+6.21.269Perseus
February 28, 201501h 32m 39s54d 25m 05s+6.31.287Perseus
March 01, 201501h 31m 52s54d 48m 16s+6.41.304Cassiopeia
March 02, 201501h 31m 08s55d 11m 09s+6.41.322Cassiopeia
March 03, 201501h 30m 27s55d 33m 44s+6.51.340Cassiopeia
March 04, 201501h 29m 48s55d 56m 04s+6.51.357Cassiopeia
March 05, 201501h 29m 11s56d 18m 09s+6.61.375Cassiopeia
March 06, 201501h 28m 37s56d 40m 01s+6.71.392Cassiopeia
March 07, 201501h 28m 05s57d 01m 41s+6.71.409Cassiopeia
March 08, 201501h 27m 34s57d 23m 10s+6.81.426Cassiopeia
March 09, 201501h 27m 06s57d 44m 30s+6.81.442Cassiopeia
March 10, 201501h 26m 40s58d 05m 40s+6.91.459Cassiopeia
March 11, 201501h 26m 16s58d 26m 43s+7.01.475Cassiopeia
March 12, 201501h 25m 54s58d 47m 39s+7.01.491Cassiopeia
March 13, 201501h 25m 33s59d 08m 29s+7.11.507Cassiopeia
March 14, 201501h 25m 14s59d 29m 14s+7.11.523Cassiopeia
March 15, 201501h 24m 57s59d 49m 54s+7.21.538Cassiopeia
March 16, 201501h 24m 42s60d 10m 31s+7.31.554Cassiopeia
March 17, 201501h 24m 28s60d 31m 05s+7.31.569Cassiopeia
March 18, 201501h 24m 16s60d 51m 36s+7.41.584Cassiopeia
March 19, 201501h 24m 05s61d 12m 06s+7.41.599Cassiopeia
March 20, 201501h 23m 56s61d 32m 35s+7.51.614Cassiopeia
March 21, 201501h 23m 48s61d 53m 04s+7.61.628Cassiopeia
March 22, 201501h 23m 41s62d 13m 33s+7.61.643Cassiopeia
March 23, 201501h 23m 36s62d 34m 03s+7.71.657Cassiopeia
March 24, 201501h 23m 32s62d 54m 34s+7.71.671Cassiopeia
March 25, 201501h 23m 29s63d 15m 06s+7.81.685Cassiopeia
March 26, 201501h 23m 27s63d 35m 40s+7.91.698Cassiopeia
March 27, 201501h 23m 26s63d 56m 17s+7.91.712Cassiopeia
March 28, 201501h 23m 26s64d 16m 56s+8.01.725Cassiopeia
March 29, 201501h 23m 27s64d 37m 39s+8.01.738Cassiopeia
March 30, 201501h 23m 30s64d 58m 24s+8.11.751Cassiopeia
March 31, 201501h 23m 33s65d 19m 14s+8.11.764Cassiopeia

See also

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) heads north during March, remains a binocular and small telescope object
How to see Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) during January 2015
Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) a naked eye comet for the New Year
Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) now visible with binoculars from Southern latitudes