In the past few days, Comet Lovejoy has made quite a name for itself. First, it survived a close encounter with the Sun virtually intact and, following observations post-solar scrape, some are predicting that Lovejoy could become one of the famed, rare, great comets, the last of which was seen in 2006-7. Now, Lovejoy has made headlines again, all thanks to an amazing time lapse video.
Colin Legg, from Australia, has been documenting Comet Lovejoy since its unexpected flare-up after its close pass with the Sun. In addition to being an astronomer, Legg is also a rather knowledgeable photographer. Recently, Legg took long-exposure pictures of the comet over the course of 5 hours. Photos downloaded, Legg then dumped them all into a movie making software program and, after some processing, turned his images into a spectacular 30 second mini movie, which must be seen to be believed.
This is not the first time Comet Lovejoy has made the news for photographic reasons.
Dan Burbank, NASA astronaut and International Space Station (ISS) resident, recently photographed Comet Lovejoy from space. Looking out the window of the ISS, Burbank snapped an incredible picture, showcasing Lovejoy in all of its glory just before Christmas. As seen from space, Lovejoy is already a great comet, shining bright and sporting a long, long tail.
However, better was to come.
As the comet continued to brighten, astronomy news website Universe Today posted an updated Comet Lovejoy gallery. Simply put, the pictures must be seen to be believed as they are just that incredible. Honestly, if it were not for the curved earth with its illuminated upper atmosphere at the bottom, one could think the Milky Way speckled images were actually shot on Earth from a dark sky site. Oh, yes, there are such photos, too.
So, how about seeing Lovejoy from the Cleveland area?
Well, the news is good and bad. Bad news first: the comet is not visible in the sky right now. The good news: the comet will be making an appearance in about a month’s time low in the Southern sky. Go here for more details about how to track down the comet and what it may look like of things go favorably.
Now for the big question: will comet Lovejoy be a McNaught for us Cleveland (and rest of us Northern) astronomers? Who knows, only time will tell. Until then, keep an eye on the Cleveland area weather forecast, which is always looking very iffy for this time of year. So, for an even more up-to date, hour-by-hour forecast (that just may show some breaks), check out the Cleveland Clear Sky Clock to see what the night will bring. Live somewhere else? Find a clock near you.
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Why not check out my other columns?
National Space News Examiner
National Photography Examiner
Cleveland Astronomy Examiner
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Bodzash Photography and Astronomy