Remember comets Lovejoy and C/2012 X1 LINEAR? We dropped in on them in late January. On Feb. 6 the two cruised within 2 degrees of each other as they tracked through Ophiuchus before dawn. Were it not for bad weather, astrophotographer Damian Peach would have been out to record the cometary conjunction, but this unique photo, taken two mornings later, shows the two comets chasing each other across the sky. Of course they’re not really following one another, nor are they related, but the illusion is wonderful.
Rarely do two relatively bright comets align so closely. Even more amazing was how much they looked alike. By good fortune I was able to see them both through a 15-inch (37-cm) under a very dark sky this morning. Although Lovejoy’s faint, approximately 20′ long tail was fanned out more than X1’s, both tails were faint, short and pointed to the west-northwest. Lovejoy’s coma was slightly larger and brighter, but both comets’ comas diplayed similarly compact, bright centers.
Lovejoy currently hovers around magnitude 8.1, X1 LINEAR at 8.8 – less than a magnitude apart. If you haven’t seen them yet, they’re still the brightest comets we’ll have around for another few months unless an unexpected visitor enters the scene.
Remove All Ads on Universe Today
Join our Patreon for as little as $3!
Get the ad-free experience for life
After converging for weeks, the comets’ paths are now slowly diverging and separating. Look while you can; the waxing moon will soon rob these fuzzies of their fading glory when it enters the morning sky this coming Tuesday or Wednesday.
See this earlier article for more information on both comets.
4 Replies to “Two Comets Pass in the Night Bound for Your Telescope”
I would SO really like to take in this view but due to the concurrent arrival of critically needed rain here in NoCal… no dice. A total wash for days and days. The gulch is running full and the creek itself is way up and muddy ugly!
“LOOK! There goes a 15 foot 3 foot dia. Doug Fir stump and that Narraganset is riding it like a surfboard!”
We got 15 inches between Friday night and last night… this morning another 5″ (10:11 AM PST) May be some clearing tomorrow morning? But since the moon is getting bigger, like she’s pregnant or something, the stray light might compromise visual obs? What color filters do you recommend?
Addendum: A retired scientist friend gave me an old computer for imaging! Not the later model lap top I wanted but still it’s a totally functioning Compac (Ugh) Persario 3550, from the late 90’s. The box itself is only 12X12X3.5 It has a floppy reader and CD DVD reader, 2 USB 2.0 ports and runs WIN 98 Ha! Remember to Scan Disk and Defrag?! Using this old software brings back an amazing amount of memories, a surprise bonus? The monitor weighs <10# and is a first gen. flat screen. The CPU is a Celeron running at 500 mhz. It has 256m RAM... my pal has 2X 2gig RAM chips somewhere in his garage he will give me. No matter... I only want it to run a camera and store images anyway.
With a mousie poo and keyboard this unit is small enough to put on a small rolling table with a pull out keyboard tray. With it, I will begin experimenting with converted web cams and/or scavenged chips at the eyepiece and at prime focus. Un-for-tuna-nettly the data cord on web cams are usually rather thick @ 3/16" dia. Next up is razor cut and peel back the insulation for the spider traverse...
Toots his horn? Here’s an image of my project, a 12 1/2″ Newtonian with a new cooling fan..
once you get that machine “pimped out” with those memory sticks, you’ll have a much wider choice of options for imaging whether you decide to run Linux or XP on it and those rare exotic peripherals.
Comments are closed.