C/2013 R1 Lovejoy

Closest to Earth on 20 November 2013 at 0.39AU
Closest to Sun on 22 December 2013 at 0.81AU
Maximum magnitude 5 in December 2013

 


C/2013 R1 Lovejoy
Left to Right:
2013 Oct 12.75UT,
2013 Nov 13.75UT,
2013 Dec 11.64UT (from Big Island Hawaii),
2014 Apr 5.75UT
Canon 60Da and 300mm EF zoom lens cropped. 3x1min exposure.

Brisbane amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy bagged his fourth comet on the morning of September 8th, using a 20cm Schmidt-Cassegrain
reflector with hyperstar lens (f/2.1) and CCD camera. It appeared 13th magnitude with a small condensed coma and diffuse tail pointing westward.
Revised orbital elements had perihelion on 2013 December 22 at a distance of 0.81AU. It is a long period comet on an approximately 11,000 year orbit.
This was great news, since periodic objects behave more reliably than dynamically new comets and C/2013 R1 was no exception.
I made an estimate on the morning of October 13 at magnitude 9.6, about 2 magnitudes brighter than predicted.
C/2013 R1 approached Earth quite closely in November, passing 0.39AU away on Nov 20, just when Southern hemisphere observers lost sight of it.
At the start of November, the magnitude 7.0 comet was in Cancer, best situated in the hour before dawn.
A lovely conjunction with M44 beehive star cluster occurred on the mornings of Nov 7-8.
The comet brightened rapidly during November as it approached both Sun and Earth and appeared mag 6.0 by mid month when situated in Leo Minor.
By then, rapid northerly motion made it invisible from southern latitudes. It peaked at magnitude 5 in December.
In late February 2014, comet Lovejoy returned to southern skies but had faded to magnitude 8.
By Early April ,slower than expected fading still had the comet shining at magnitude 10, when situated near the Scutum starfields.