One more Lovejoy time lapse... maybe the last

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Dec. 29 2011 11:46 AM

One more Lovejoy time lapse... maybe the last

Reports are starting to come in that Comet Lovejoy is fading rapidly, which isn't too surprising. As it gets farther from the Sun it gets colder, and the ice on its surface doesn't turn into gas quite so vigorously. It's the cloud of expanding gas that reflects sunlight and makes a comet bright, so there you go.

Still, astrophotographer Colin Legg managed to get enough shots to make this wonderful time lapse animation of Lovejoy as seen over Esperance, Australia on the evening of December 26/27:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Make sure you make it high resolution, and watch it full screen. The movement of the sky you see here is due to the rotation of the Earth, of course, but if you look carefully you can see the head of the comet moving a small amount relative to the stars.

So it looks like we northern hemispherians may never get a good look at Lovejoy... but you never know. Comets are difficult to predict, and Lovejoy has proven itself to be feisty. I wouldn't bet on it, but I'll keep my ear to the ground and my eyes to the sky just in case.

Tip o' the Whipple Shield to Fraser Cain on Google+.



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