Comet LoveJoy — officially known as C/2014 Q2 — will be reaching its closest approach to the Earth tonight (~43.5 million miles), as well as its brightest-appearance as seen from the Earth.
The comet is expected to reach a peak of about ~4.5 magnitude tonight — which means that it will be fairly visible (even from many urban regions), and should make for a good show when seen from a dark rural location. Binoculars will of course make the comet-watching just that much better, with far greater detail, and perhaps colouring, being visible.
Something interesting to note — the last time this comet made its way to us here in the inner solar system was around 11,000 years ago, according to astronomers.
Those who are going out tonight to look for the comet would be advised to do so before too late at night (I’d say before 10pm-ish) in order to avoid the light of the Moon. You’ll want to look towards-ish the southern horizon (for those in the northern hemisphere) — to the west of the constellation of Orion, to the constellation of Eridanus (later in the month it’ll be in Taurus, and then Aries).
Later in the week, Comet LoveJoy will climb higher and higher into the night’s sky, and, also, Moonrise will be moving later and later into the night — meaning that the comet’s visibility should remain good for at least a few more days.
The next time that this comet will visit the inner solar system will, apparently (according to astronomers), not be for another 8,000 years — so if you’re interested at all, I’d recommend you take the opportunity. 🙂
Image Credit: Screen Capture