Comet Lovejoy

 
Officially known as C/2014 Q2, it was discovered on 2014 August 17 by Australian comet hunter Terry Lovejoy in Queensland, Australia using a 20cm telescope.

Through December 2014 - mid January 2015 it was very well-placed for southern hemisphere observers as it was closest to Earth (closest approach on 7/1) and approaching perihelion (30/1/15). Around the time of closest approach to Earth it became visible to the naked eye from dark sky areas.

It is a dynamically old comet having passed through the inner solar system before; its revised orbital period is now around 8000 years.  

 

Photographed from the dark skies north of Heathcote against the stars of Puppis on 2014 December 18 when around 6th magnitude. Note the structure in the tail and the beautiful greenish colour of the coma.

Photographed under dark skies north of Heathcote, Victoria, against the stars of Aries on 2015 January 21 when around 4th magnitude. A wider angle view was used to gauge the tail's extent which was clearly beyond the Pleiades (12+). Last exposures were taken when trees started to extend into the field of view.

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