Lovejoy in Iceland

January 11, 2015
Posted in
January 11, 2015 Þröstur Freyr Hauksson

Lovejoy in Iceland

Fyrsta myndin af halastjörnunni Lovejoy frá Íslandi! 

Stjörnuáhugamaðurinn Jón Sigurðsson tók myndina í gærkvöld frá Þingeyri.

This is the first picture of Lovejoy seen from Iceland. Stargazing enthusias Jón Sigurðsson took it last night in Þingeyri. The comet can easily be seen through handheld binoculars, so imagine how well you’ll be able to explore it through our 9.25 inch semi-professional digital telescope. 

Why is Lovejoy glowing green?
The reason the comet is glowing green is because of molecules of diatomic carbon in its head, which are fluorescing in ultraviolet sunlight in the near-vacuum of space. This actually usually happens with comets, but it’s normally obscured by how dusty they are. When a comet is dusty, it appears to glow with the same colour as the Sun, as the dust around it reflects the sunlight. This makes them glow a spectacular showy white in the night sky, as the previous Comet Lovejoy did.

How can I spot it?
The comet can be found near the Orion constellation and that green tint should make it easier to pick out. It will be travelling at three degrees per day at its peak, according to Astronomy Magazine, so it will noticeably move across the sky.

Can I see it later?
Lovejoy is a long period comet, having last passed through the inner solar system around 11,500 years ago, according to Sky and Telescope. Due to slight perturbations in the planets this time around, the comet’s orbit will alter, so the next time it becomes visible to Earth observers will be in around 8,000 years time. 

So, are you willing to wait for the next time ’round? We’re not chancing it with any development in long-life technology, we’re loading up the 4×4 with stargazing stuff and heading out there now!