C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy

Closest to Sun on 30 January 2015 at 1.29AU
Closest to Earth on 7 January 2015 at 0.47AU
Maximum magnitude 4.0 in January 2015

On August 17, Brisbane amateur comet hunter Terrry Lovejoy bagged his 5th discovery!
Quite a remarkable achievement in todays age.
The closure in 2013 of the Siding Spring survey operated by Rob McNaught has opened up opportunities for amateurs in the southern hemisphere.
Terry's new find arrived at perihelion on January 30 at 1.29AU. Prior to this, it had a close approach to Earth at 0.47AU on January 7.

C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy on 2014 October 16.73UT
I-TEL T31 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + focal reducer. 4x1 minute exposure. cropped. Magnitude 11 and brightening.

Since discovery, the comet brightened unusually rapidly and was already magnitude 8.5 by mid November.
The orbit is of long period, about 13,880 yrs. Periodic comets are more reliable than first timers and are much less likely to fizzle.

C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy on 2014 Nov 12

As December began, the magnitude 7.5 comet was located in Puppis, about 2 degrees southeast of Sigma Pup in the south eastern evening sky.
Moonlight interfered with observing until December 9.
On Dec 11, the now magnitude 6.5 comet was near 12th magnitude galaxy NGC 2328, and on Dec 13, near 12th magnitude galaxy NGC 2310.
North-westerly motion picked up rapidly as the comet approached Earth and Sun.
I made my first naked eye estimation of 6.0 on December 14.58UT

On Dec 22, the comet was within a degree of 12th magnitude galaxy NGC 2188 in Columba and on Dec 29, within a degree of globular cluster M79 in Lepus.

Ion tail disconnections were a feature of this apparition as seen above.

The rapid brightening trend saw the comet reach magnitude 5.0 by the start of January, when situated in Lepus
 nearly overhead in the evening sky, about 4 degrees north of Eta Lep, however, moonlight interfered.
The comet moved 3 degrees Northwestwards each night and viewing became less and less favourable for southerners.
On the 2nd, it crossed into Eridanus and then into Taurus on the 9th.
On January 11th, the magnitude 4.3 comet displayed a coma size of 20' across and an ion tail pointing eastwards for >2 degrees.

C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy on 2015 January 11, 11:30UT. FOV 4 degrees wide. Canon 60Da and Sigma 200mm lens cropped.

C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy wide field image on 2015 January 11.
Comet is above centre, with Pleiades star cluster at bottom, Taurus above right, and Orion at upper Right.


Wide field 50mm lens showing comet in relation to Hyades (top right) and Pleiades (centre bottom) star clusters.

2015 Jan 15. Digital developed to reveal nucleus, coma and ion streamers.

The comet moved into Aries on the 16th and on the 18th, was 8 degrees to the west of the Pleiades star cluster.
Below are features of the ion tail between January 15-19

The comet then entered Triangulum on the 25th, where Moonlight started to interfere again. The show was virtually over for the Southern Hemisphere as the comet continued to move northwards.

Finder Charts

Dec 2014

Jan 2015