November 9, 2013

Four Comets at once and the brightest comet is Lovejoy - Nov 10, 2013

Comet ISON is getting all the press, but it's not even the brightest comet in its own patch of sky. That would be Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1), one of four comets now rising in the east before dawn:

Pictured from left to right are exploding Comet LINEAR X1, sungrazing Comet ISON, short-period Comet Encke, and the brightest of them all, Comet Lovejoy.

Image credits: Sormano Astronomical Observatory (Nov. 7, 2013)

The discovery of C/2013 R1 Lovejoy by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy, was announced on Sept. 9, 2013.

All four are visible in binoculars or backyard telescopes, and Comet Lovejoy (mag. +6.0) is visible to the naked eye from dark-sky sites. Comet ISON is actually one of the faintest of the group; only expanding Comet LINEAR X1 (mag. +8) is more difficult to see.

Image left: A graphic created by Stuart Atkinson showing the comets Lovejoy, Ison and Encke and planetary lineup that should be in the skies yesterday (November 9, 2013.)

An apparition of so many comets at once is a rare thing, and amateur astronomers are encouraged to wake up early for a tour of the pre-dawn sky.

Dates of special interest include Nov. 15-18 when Comet LINEAR X1 passes by the bright star Arcturus, Nov 17-18 when Comet ISON has a close encounter with Spica, and Nov. 18-20 when Comet Encke buzzes Mercury.

These stars and planets make excellent naked-eye guideposts for finding the comets.

Meanwhile, bright Comet Lovejoy is approaching the Big Dipper; if you can't see it with your unaided eye, a quick scan with binoculars will reveal it.

Sky maps: Nov. 10:


Sky Maps: Nov 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
via and credits SpaceWeather

3 comments:

  1. So many comets, so little time. Strange isn't it?

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  2. four horsemen, and in local news, seven additional volcano's erupted today bringing the total active to 16 while Yellowstone remains inactive, the central dome has expanded 10" in the past 3 days and Miley Cyrus dances with cat

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  3. The Miley thing was probably nothing, now, the huge red fire ball that exploded over the Yucatan last night, that was something!
    A

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