Officially catalogued as the comet C/2014 Q2, but popularly named as Comet ‘Lovejoy’, a new heavenly visitor will become the latest guest in the earth’s night sky. The green colored comet which appears almost as a spell shot in the air by a wizard’s wand was named ‘Lovejoy’ after it was spotted by the amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy, who discovered it in the month of August, 2014. At that time, the comet was located in the southern constellation of Puppis the Stern and was headed slowly in a north-west direction. Now it has been predicted by scientists that the comet will be visible in the night sky for almost 10-14 straight days during mid-January, and then after that it will disappear for the next 8000 years.
The excitement about the comet’s visit to earth’s visible space lies in the fact that the comet’s flight is yet to be fixed and determined. Enthusiastic star gazers want to revel in the excitement becoming a witness to the comet’s unpredictable flight path. They are also anticipatory of what the comet might end up doing in the night-sky. The green fuzzy colored comet has a brightness of magnitude 4 which means that it can be viewed with the naked eye in the outer suburbs and with binoculars in the inner city areas. It also means that stargazers will not require any special instruments or visual aid to be able to view the comet in the night sky.
This is one of those rare astronomical events which provide an opportunity to the general public to become privy to cosmic occurrences. This is so because the comet will pass closest to earth at a distance of 44 million miles, which is half as far off as the distance between the Sun and the Earth.
To the curious onlooker, scientists have given the constellation Orion as the best reference point to spot this comet. The amateur astronomer Lovejoy told the Age, “Look up to the Orion’s left knee and then drift across towards the left and scan that area. Lovejoy also advised curious onlookers and stargazers alike to be really patient, especially if they are around a lot of light. Therefore, it is advisable that those living in urban areas should attempt to sight the comet with the help of binoculars so that the air particulates in the urban air does not occlude the comet’s tail, the happening of which will dampen one’s comet sighting experience.