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See comet Lovejoy with the naked eye this weekend
by Brooks Hays
Sydney (UPI) Jan 9, 2015


disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Comet Lovejoy -- or more officially, C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy -- is named for the Australian amateur astronomer who spotted the glowing green ball just last year. Terry Lovejoy spied the comet through his eight-inch telescope in his backyard.

A year later, and comet Lovejoy is back. And astronomers say the flying chunk of cosmic ice will be visible with the naked eye this weekend -- as long as the weather cooperates.

Scientists say the constellation Orion is the best reference point for those looking to catch a glimpse of C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy.

"Look up to his left knee and then drift across towards the left and scan that area," Lovejoy told The Age. "But you will need to be patient, especially if you are around a lot of light."

Go outside after sundown and let the eyes adjust. Viewing in urban and heavily lighted suburban areas will make seeing the comet's tail quite difficult. Those watching from light polluted areas may need binoculars or small telescopes.

Astronomer Geoff Wyatt suggests would-be comet-spotters should refrain from smoking.

"Getting away from light pollution would improve the view, as would not smoking a cigarette immediately beforehand," Wyatt told the Telegraph. Cigarettes, Wyatt explained, can diminish blood supply to the optic nerve and affect night vision for the worse.

Lovejoy's approach over the next couple days will bring it within some 44 million miles of Earth, the closest it will get for some time.

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