There’s a comet in the night sky. Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 is moving up the southern sky, currently in the constellation Lepus, just south of Orion. It’s brightened enough to be visible to the naked eye under dark skies (which, sadly, most of us don’t enjoy anymore) and is visible in binoculars and small telescopes even with the light pollution.
The weather has been bad for astronomy here in Baltimore lately. We’ve had very few clear nights over the past month. January 1st looked promising, though, so I headed out with my 6″ Newtonian reflector around 9:30 PM to see if I could find the comet. There were thin clouds drifting through that part of the sky, but it wasn’t too bad as I started setting up.
Unfortunately, by the time I had the scope aligned and pointed in the right direction, the cloud cover had increased considerably. Most of the brighter stars were still visible through the haze, but of the comet I saw no sign.
I did take a swing by M42, the Orion Nebula (the middle star in the “sword” hanging from Orion’s belt). I actually could see a bit of that, although with the clouds it wasn’t too clear what was nebulosity and what was light from the four stars of the Trapezium (in the midst of the nebula) scattered by the clouds.
That’s how astronomy 2015 started for me. A bit of a disappointment, but better than nothing!