Adrian Jannetta writes...
The brightest comet in recent months has been Comet Lovejoy (or 2013 R1 Lovejoy to be precise). Here's a picture I took on the morning of January 5th at around 6.45am.
Comet Lovejoy was closest to the Earth in November and reached its closest distance from the Sun in late December. Although Comet Lovejoy is beginning to fade now, it remains an easy object for binoculars in the sky before sunrise for the next couple of weeks.
The following star chart shows the steady progress of the comet as it leaves the inner solar system on a path taking it below the orbit of the Earth and into the southern sky.
By the end of January the comet will probably have slipped beyond the light grasp of binoculars. Observation will also be hampered by the presence of the moon from January 10th until the last few days of the month.
Comet Lovejoy has been a wonderful comet to observe and I've learned a lot about imaging along the way. The other heartening thing about this comet is that it came out of nowhere! It was only discovered in September - while the world was getting hyped up about ISON - and was always the better of the two comets through the telescope eyepiece. As we start 2014 with two or three comets expected to become binocular bright - there is always the chance that something as beautiful as Comet Lovejoy will be found tomorrow.
Dr Adrian Jannetta FRAS
Amateur astronomer and mathematics teacher. Guitar strumming explorer of the universe!
Proud nerd and founder of the school space club. A young whippersnapper with a bucket-load of passion.