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Comet Lovejoy

Last week I headed out for a 6 day run at the observatory to shoot comet Lovejoy ( C/2014 Q2 ) . The observatory is located about 80 miles east of San Diego at 3800 feet in high desert terrain. Typically the wind blows quite a bit and to put together a few good nights of data, you need to be out there a week or so. This time was no exception, as we experienced 30 knot winds the first two nights of my stay.

On the third night the winds calmed, the sky settled, and I was able to gather about 8 hours of shooting which resulted in this movie of the comet which last about 30 seconds.

 

C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is a long-period comet discovered on 17 August 2014 by Terry Lovejoy using a 0.2-meter (8 in) Schmidt–Cassegrain telescope. It was discovered at apparent magnitude 15 in the southern constellation of Puppis. It is the fifth comet discovered by Terry Lovejoy. What I love about this is that Terry used a small telescope to make his discovery, and he has made several others. Just goes to show that the amateur community still has the right stuff to make discoveries.

This comet has an orbit that takes it around the sun over a 8,000 year period. That’s crazy but true. We are very fortunate to be alive at just the right point in history to see the comet, capture pictures of it, make a short movie of its motion, and then wish it well until it returns 8000 years from now. I wonder if anyone will be here to see it when it returns.

You can still see the comet visually without aid, but a set of binoculars really work well to see the core.

Checkout this chart from Sky & Telescope

Now get out there and look up!