This post is now outdated. Please click here for current viewing information.With a waxing gibbous 11-day-old Moon in the sky throughout the hours of darkness, observers will have to be patient to view C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy in a dark sky. Hovering around magnitude 6.5, Comet Lovejoy is in the constellation of Cassiopeia and still just visible in binoculars. Since it is now a circumpolar object, it doesn’t set as seen from the British Isles. C/2014 Q2 merely dips below the north celestial pole around 2 am BST to 25° above the northern horizon in the UK, before rising higher in the north-northeast sky at dawn.
Observers using GoTo telescopes or instruments equipped with digital setting circles can use the following nightly equatorial coordinates to find Comet Lovejoy quickly:
31st March at 10 pm BST — α = 1h 23.5m δ = +65°38′ (J2000.0)
If current predictions hold true, C/2014 Q2 should fade from around magnitude 6.5 to 7 by the end of March 2015. This means that Comet Lovejoy is still an easy target for binoculars and small telescopes under dark, moonless skies.
Seek out a dark (save for the Moon), safe location with an unobstructed view of the northwestern sky. The comet will be highest above the north-northwest horizon at the time astronomical twilight ends around 9:45 pm GMT. Use the lowest power eyepiece you have when observing C/2014 Q2 with a telescope.
Comet Lovejoy lies in a rich Milky Way star field, 3.8° west-northwest of magnitude-3.4 star ε Cassiopeiae, otherwise known as Segin in the prominent W-shaped asterism of Cassiopeia.
Inside the magazine
You can find out more about Comet Lovejoy in the March edition of Astronomy Now in addition to a full observing guide to the night sky.
Never miss an issue by subscribing to the UK’s biggest astronomy magazine. Also available for iPad/iPhone and Android devices.