At long last, I’ve spotted a comet! I’ve tried and failed before, thwarted by weather conditions, sunrise, moonrise, stupidity and no doubt many other factors. I’ve been looking for a chance to have a squint at Lovejoy ever since Christmas, but the weather has been appalling – wind, cloud and rain are not the star gazer’s friends – or else the moon has been inconsiderately bright. Tonight though things were perfect, and I reckoned now or never.
I’m somewhat nesh and having moved to a house with big windows that open wide, I thought I’d try indoors at first. Sadly, the eaves kept getting in the way, so I reluctantly accepted I’d have to go outside. (One of the first things you read when taking up astronomy is that it’s not an indoor hobby. True.)
Now here’s the bit where you might want to question my credentials. Looking in what I thought was roughly the right area of the sky, I kept coming across this hazy blob. I wonder what that is, I wondered to myself. Must be a globular, or maybe a galaxy. Don’t remember seeing anything on the charts though. Hmm. It took a moment or 10 for the penny to drop. Then I remembered that a comet is, in essence, a dirty snowball. And it dawned on me that I was finally looking at Comet Lovejoy!
Folks, it’s really easy to see with ordinary binoculars. Take a 45 degree line, 4 o’clock from Pleiades, and you’ll find it within two fist spans (a fist span? Hold you’re arm out in front of you with your fist clenched and it’s the amount of sky you’re covering). Said beasty looks like a big fuzzy round blob, maybe a bit brighter in the middle and fading outwards. It won’t look green! With my eyesight I couldn’t make out much in the way of structure, but if you have better eyes or better binoculars, you might see the tail.
Happy Hunting 🙂