Beginning Astronomy / Comets

Comet Lovejoy

Early in December I decided to try to find Comet Lovejoy. While all eyes were on ISON, I felt sorry for Lovejoy. Here it was, high in the sky still putting on a show and no one seemed to be paying attention! I checked first to see if Lovejoy was going to be visible at a reasonable hour. This is an important criteria for me. I struggle with the whole ‘should I sleep or should I get out of bed and go observing’ thing.  I really hate  being cold, so usually sleep wins out!  Good news! I should be able to see it around 5am.

Before I went to bed I checked the star charts again in an attempt to burn into my memory the exact position of the comet. This almost never works by the way.  I checked my 10×50 binoculars and made sure I had warm clothes. It’s December in Wisconsin and I really hate being cold.

What I was really hoping for was to be able to see Lovejoy through my patio doors, avoiding the whole subzero thing. I told you I hate the cold.  Sadly, that was not to be. Lovejoy was going to be too far north and in the tree of my backyard. Oh – but wait – I could stand in my driveway and see Lovejoy over my house! Well that was better than not seeing it at all, so I was happy.

The next morning I rolled out of bed at 4:30.  I threw on some warm clothes, grabbed my jacket and binoculars and went out front.  I was pretty sure I knew where to look but once again my memory failed me. I told you that never works. Back into the house to check my star charts.  After scrutinizing a star chart I went back out and sure enough, there she was! A faint fuzz ball. The moon was a bit bright, so I was unable to discern any tail, but I could see the star like center of the comet.  It was truly amazing!

The best part was that I was able to get up, find Lovejoy and make it back to bed before my hubby left the house. Who says you can’t do astronomy in your jammies?

Amy

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