• Sunset over West Chop Light.
  • Mark Lovewell

Comet Lovejoy

There is a comet in our evening sky you may be able to see this month. Comet Lovejoy has resided in the Southern skies, and has been watched with interest in the lower latitudes since it was discovered last August by Terry Lovejoy, for which it is named.

Vineyard stargazers haven’t had an easy comet to spot in the sky for quite a few years. There have been some forecasted comets but they were a visual disappointment.

Comet Lovejoy is already proving itself far better than past performers. Comet Lovejoy appears as a tiny faint fuzz ball, a fuzzy star, in our sky just to the west (right) of the constellation Orion, the Hunter. It is moving towards the zodiacal constellation Taurus. It will pass a short distance away and under the star cluster Pleiades on Jan. 17. A brightening moon this week will also make it more difficult to spot until later in the month.

If you are looking Saturday, Sunday or Monday night, look a short distance to the right of the bright star Rigel in Orion. It won’t be an easy find, because it is faint. There are observer charts available on the internet, though. Search for the comet by name, the year 2015 and include the word “chart.”

This week amateur astronomers report Comet Lovejoy is magnitude 5, which means it is just bright enough to see without binoculars, though binoculars will certainly help. You’ll probably know it when you see it. In the nights ahead the comet will inch more northward. It enters the starfield of Taurus by the end of the coming week.

Comets usually have a tail, but this one is so faint only sophisticated photographic equipment have recorded it.

We’ll be watching this comet and will hopefully give updates ahead.
 

Sunrise and Sunset
DaySunriseSunset
Fri., Jan. 27:084:22
Sat., Jan. 37:084:23
Sun., Jan. 47:084:24
Mon., Jan. 57:084:25
Tues., Jan. 67:084:26
Wed., Jan. 77:084:27
Thurs., Jan. 87:084:28
Fri., Jan. 97:084:29

Temperatures and Precipitations
DayMax (Fº)Min (Fº)Inches
Dec. 2559461.52
Dec. 2653360.03
Dec. 2749310.00
Dec. 2853370.00
Dec. 2951340.01
Dec. 3041260.00
Dec. 3129150.00

 

Water temperature in Edgartown harbor: 41º F

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