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The New Year is off to a fine start for astronomers with comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) now bright enough to be seen with the naked eye. When it was discovered on August 17, 2014 the comet was predicted to reach about magnitude +8 and hence within binocular range but too faint to be seen with the naked eye. However, Lovejoy has exceeded expectations and is now bright enough to seen without optical aid from a reasonably dark site.

On January 7th, Lovejoy reached closest approach to Earth at 0.469 AU (70.2 million km or 43.6 million miles). On this day it shone at magnitude +4.5 in the constellation of Eridanus just west of magnificent Orion. Since it was two days after full Moon, spotting the comet with the naked eye was difficult but easy with binoculars, appearing as obviously non-stellar hazy patch of light. Photographically, Lovejoy appeared green in colour with a long thin tail. Prospects for the remainder of the month are even better, the Moon has now past full and although the comet is now receding from Earth, it should remain within naked eye visibility for a few weeks to come.

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

Location and star chart

Comet Lovejoy started January in the constellation of Lepus moving on a northwesterly trajectory. On January 2nd, it moved into the large winding constellation of Eridanus remaining there for a week before crossing into Taurus on January 9th. Continuing northwards, Lovejoy crosses into Aries on January 16th and then Triangulum on January 24th. At the very end of the month it moves into Andromeda.

From northern locations the comet is superbly placed throughout January. It's visible almost all night and at its highest appears above the southern horizon at about 11pm. Those located at southern latitudes can follow the comet for most of the month although towards the end January it will appear low down above the northern horizon. It's expected to have faded to magnitude +5.3 on January 31st.

Over the next few weeks Lovejoy should be a fantastic sight for all those who are able to see it. The finder charts below show the positions of the comet from January 6th to January 30th, 2015.

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

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) Finder Chart from January 10th to January 18th, 2015

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) Finder Chart from January 10th to January 18th, 2015 - pdf format

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) Finder Chart from January 6th to January 11th, 2015

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) Finder Chart from January 6th to January 11th, 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 01, 201505h 04m 16s-19d 11m 08s+4.80.496Lepus
January 02, 201504h 57m 09s-17d 01m 04s+4.80.488Lepus
January 03, 201504h 50m 01s-14d 45m 22s+4.70.482Eridanus
January 04, 201504h 42m 54s-12d 24m 42s+4.70.477Eridanus
January 05, 201504h 35m 49s-09d 59m 53s+4.60.473Eridanus
January 06, 201504h 28m 48s-07d 31m 48s+4.60.470Eridanus
January 07, 201504h 21m 52s-05d 01m 29s+4.60.469Eridanus
January 08, 201504h 15m 02s-02d 29m 59s+4.50.469Eridanus
January 09, 201504h 08m 18s00d 01m 38s+4.50.471Eridanus
January 10, 201504h 01m 41s02d 32m 16s+4.50.474Taurus
January 11, 201503h 55m 12s05d 00m 58s+4.50.478Taurus
January 12, 201503h 48m 53s07d 26m 49s+4.50.483Taurus
January 13, 201503h 42m 43s09d 49m 02s+4.50.490Taurus
January 14, 201503h 36m 42s12d 06m 58s+4.50.498Taurus
January 15, 201503h 30m 52s14d 20m 05s+4.60.507Taurus
January 16, 201503h 25m 13s16d 28m 01s+4.60.518Taurus
January 17, 201503h 19m 44s18d 30m 32s+4.60.529Aries
January 18, 201503h 14m 26s20d 27m 28s+4.70.541Aries
January 19, 201503h 09m 19s22d 18m 47s+4.70.554Aries
January 20, 201503h 04m 23s24d 04m 34s+4.70.567Aries
January 21, 201502h 59m 38s25d 44m 54s+4.80.582Aries
January 22, 201502h 55m 03s27d 19m 58s+4.80.597Aries
January 23, 201502h 50m 39s28d 49m 58s+4.90.612Aries
January 24, 201502h 46m 25s30d 15m 08s+4.90.629Aries
January 25, 201502h 42m 22s31d 35m 43s+5.00.645Triangulum
January 26, 201502h 38m 28s32d 51m 58s+5.00.662Triangulum
January 27, 201502h 34m 43s34d 04m 10s+5.10.680Triangulum
January 28, 201502h 31m 08s35d 12m 32s+5.10.697Triangulum
January 29, 201502h 27m 42s36d 17m 21s+5.20.716Triangulum
January 30, 201502h 24m 25s37d 18m 50s+5.20.734Triangulum
January 31, 201502h 21m 15s38d 17m 13s+5.30.752Andromeda
February 01, 201502h 18m 14s39d 12m 43s+5.30.771Andromeda
February 02, 201502h 15m 21s40d 05m 32s+5.40.790Andromeda
February 03, 201502h 12m 35s40d 55m 53s+5.50.809Andromeda
February 04, 201502h 09m 56s41d 43m 55s+5.50.828Andromeda
February 05, 201502h 07m 24s42d 29m 48s+5.60.848Andromeda
February 06, 201502h 04m 59s43d 13m 42s+5.60.867Andromeda
February 07, 201502h 02m 40s43d 55m 46s+5.70.887Andromeda
February 08, 201502h 00m 28s44d 36m 08s+5.70.906Andromeda
February 09, 201501h 58m 21s45d 14m 54s+5.80.926Andromeda
February 10, 201501h 56m 20s45d 52m 13s+5.90.945Andromeda
February 11, 201501h 54m 24s46d 28m 10s+5.90.965Andromeda
February 12, 201501h 52m 34s47d 02m 51s+6.00.984Andromeda
February 13, 201501h 50m 49s47d 36m 22s+6.01.004Andromeda
February 14, 201501h 49m 08s48d 08m 49s+6.11.023Perseus
February 15, 201501h 47m 32s48d 40m 15s+6.11.043Andromeda
February 16, 201501h 46m 01s49d 10m 46s+6.21.062Andromeda
February 17, 201501h 44m 34s49d 40m 25s+6.31.081Andromeda
February 18, 201501h 43m 11s50d 09m 16s+6.31.100Andromeda
February 19, 201501h 41m 52s50d 37m 23s+6.41.119Andromeda
February 20, 201501h 40m 37s51d 04m 49s+6.41.139Perseus
February 21, 201501h 39m 26s51d 31m 37s+6.51.157Perseus
February 22, 201501h 38m 18s51d 57m 50s+6.51.176Perseus
February 23, 201501h 37m 14s52d 23m 30s+6.61.195Perseus
February 24, 201501h 36m 13s52d 48m 41s+6.71.214Perseus
February 25, 201501h 35m 15s53d 13m 24s+6.71.232Perseus
February 26, 201501h 34m 20s53d 37m 41s+6.81.250Perseus
February 27, 201501h 33m 28s54d 01m 34s+6.81.269Perseus
February 28, 201501h 32m 39s54d 25m 05s+6.91.287Perseus

See also

Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) heads north during March, remains a binocular and small telescope object
Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) remains visible with binoculars and small telescopes during February 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