Green tail of Comet Lovejoy to be visible near Orion constellation | 12 January 2015
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The first opportunity to spot a comet in the night sky could happen tonight as Comet Lovejoy comes within viewing distance of Earth. Lovejoy has been near Earth for the past few weeks and will tonight be at its' brightest as it approaches the Sun to hopefully offer onlookers in the Northern Hemisphere a glimpse.
Lovejoy, also known as Comet C/2014 Q2, will be passing by Earth approximately 44 million miles away tonight. This means it will be visible to sky viewers as a smudge near the Orion constellation without having to use any specialist equipment. That is of course once there are no clouds in the sky and you are sufficiently far enough away from light pollution.
However, if you really want to get a good look at Lovejoy's beautiful green hue then looking through a set of binoculars will allow you to view its' green tail as it hurtles past. If you have access to a telescope then even better as you will be able to take in the comet in all its' glory.
The comet is made up of ice and it orbits the Sun. It was discovered just last August by Australian astronomer Terry Lovejoy using a telescope in his back yard. He has discovered 5 comets in this manner which makes him extremely good at his hobby given that the majority of comets are discovered through the use of far more advanced equipment.
Tonight marks the start of a two week period which should give stargazers around the world a chance to follow the comet on its' path. Lovejoy has also suggested that the comet may even come closer to Earth at some stage. He said "There is also excitement around what the comet might do, so there is a couple of days before it is possible to determine the future path of a comet which has a large bearing on how close it will get to us and how bright it might get."