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Science & Environment

Point Your Binoculars Skyward: Comet Lovejoy is Visible Over the Cape and Islands

Abel de Burgos / flickr

For the last several weeks a comet has been visible in the sky – if you’ve known where to look with your binoculars. The comet is named Lovejoy, and it has a greenish hue.

According to Dr. Michael West, Director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory on Nantucket, this is the fifth comet discovered by the Australian comet hunter Terry Lovejoy. Its greenish color is a result of it shedding carbon molecules as it approaches the sun.

Now is the ideal time to look for Loevjoy, as the comet is at its peak brightness.  It will come closest to the Sun at the end of January.  On a clear dark night you should be able to see it without difficulty using binoculars - and it may even be visible to the naked eye. 

Since Lovejoy's position continues to change as it swings around the sun, Dr. West suggests using a star map to locate the comet.  Here's a link to a star map at, and here's one at Sky and Telescope.  Both these websites have lots of good information on Comet Lovejoy.

Now let's hope for clear skies this weekend!

Steve Junker's conversation with Dr. Michael West of the Maria Mitchell Observatory on Nantucket is posted above - give it a listen.