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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Comet Lovejoy Now at its Brightest

Comet Lovejoy is now at its predicted brightest, magnitude 4.9, where it is forecast to remain through January 12. Magnitude is the measure of the brightness of celestial objects. Lower numbers are brighter, higher numbers are dimmer. From there it will continue to dim to magnitude 5.9 on January 22. Magnitude 6 is considered to be the dimmest object visible to the naked eye in a totally dark sky. Yet, even if you can't view it with your naked eye, and you need extremely dark skies to see a magnitude 4.9 object with your naked eye, it should still be easily visible even in small binoculars in a suburban sky throughout the month of January.

Here is another finder chart with tick marks for date and magnitude on each date. Comet Lovejoy is now moving through Taurus, and its path runs roughly parallel to the dim stars that make up Orion's shield or bow, as it is sometimes depicted. Let us know if you have any luck finding it.

Comet Lovejoy path through the constellations
Follow Comet Lovejoy as it passes through the constellations Orion and Taurus. Tick marks show its position at 0h UT on each date as well as its magnitude. Higher magnitude numbers are dimmer. It should be easily visible in suburban skies with even small binoculars.

Now all we need in Israel to have a go at it is the end of the storms that have pummeled us for the last few days and made it impossible to see anything at all in the sky.

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