Lovely Comet Lovejoy

Comet ISON has come and gone, but lovely Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) is still going strong. It is now at or near peak brightness, and well placed in the Northern Hemisphere's predawn sky.

Missouri astrophotographer Victor Rogus captured Comet Lovejoy on November 30th with a DSLR attached to a 5-inch telescope.
Victor Rogus
Nobody would claim that Lovejoy is the Comet of the Century, but at magnitude 5.0 or thereabouts, it's one of the brightest comets of the year. Lovejoy is visible to the unaided eye under dark skies and an easy catch in binoculars even under bright urban skies. It has a large, bright head and sports a tail about 2° long.

Look about 30° above the east-northeast horizon 90 minutes before sunrise, just before the sky starts to brighten. Lovejoy is left of (and a little below) bright Arcturus and almost directly below Alkaid, the end of the Big Dipper's handle. Click here for a detailed chart.

Lovejoy will appear about 1° lower each successive morning, and it will become difficult to see once the nearly full Moon enters the predawn sky on December 15th or 16th. So get out and see it now!

9 thoughts on “Lovely Comet Lovejoy

  1. Mariano Ribas

    Sorry, but Lovejoy is not the "brightest comet of the year". What about comet PanSTARRS (around mag 1.5) in March, and comet Lemmon (mag 4) in March and April?

  2. Mariano Ribas

    Sorry, but Lovejoy is not the "brightest comet of the year". What about comet PanSTARRS (around mag 1.5) in March, and comet Lemmon (mag 4) in March and April?

  3. Chris Schur

    We were out this morning (12/5) and were easily able to see the comets head naked eye around mag 4.5. In the binoculars it was an awesome sight, about half a field of tail was seen clearly. Certainly the best comet visible at this time!

  4. Paul Winn

    It my not be the brightest of the year, but it not what was stated it reads "it’s one of the brightest comets of the year."

    Its still a great comet and looking through Bino’s it is outstanding.

    To bad comet ISON did not make it around the sun

  5. Anthony Barreiro

    Thank God Lovejoy C/2013 R1 is not "the comet of the century." That kind of hype is pretty much the kiss of death. I’ve been greatly enjoying Comet Lovejoy through binoculars in the mornings for the past couple of weeks. Even in a light-polluted city, it’s beautiful in binoculars, with a big, bright, slightly greenish coma and a faint but obvious tail.

  6. Rich

    Lovejoy indeed very nice, as was Lemmon from the south. But comets like that come often- every couple of years. They are small fish compared to the two big ones that got away this year. The one turned out rather dull, and many felt like throwing it back. The other put up a great fight but died. :-(

  7. Albert-FosterAlbert Foster

    Today was the first clear sky conditions in south Georgia, USA, since Tony’s posting of 12-4-’13. We have been clouded over every morning and night since 12-4. Today I reviewed the instructions and walked to my best E-NE sky watching spot in our dark rural locality to be in the proper position at least 15 minutes ahead of the 90 minutes before sunrise as suggested. I had my compass heading, which brought me into line with a point on the horizon directly below Alkaid at the end of the Big Dipper’s handle. All seemed well. I knew from Tony’s instructions that rather than the 30 degrees on 12-4 I should subtract one degree per day for the elevation above the horizon. That adjustment suggested that Lovejoy should be about 23 degrees above the horizon, and "almost directly below Alkaid." I did not see anything like a comet with the naked eye, and only a tiny bluish smudge (which was most likely my target, Lovejoy) at about 23 degrees above the horizon with my 10×50 binoculars. If that was Lovejoy it was about 17 degrees below Alkaid, very roughly estimated with my extended fist. It did not seem to fit the descriptions posted by others, and in fact I had great trouble holding it in view and finding it again. Can anyone offer any further comment that would help when I attempt to find it with my telescope in the morning?

  8. Albert-FosterAlbert Foster

    Bingo! Got it this morning visual, binocular and telescope. Right where Tony said last week, as corrected for date, etc. Same blue smudge I thought I saw yesterday, but earlier with more time and less sunrise to interfere. Thanks Tony. Glad I kept trying.

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