Comet Lovejoy Marks the Start of 2015

December 28, 2014

cometlovejoy Behold. According to Sky & Telescope magazine, Comet Lovejoy reveals itself  just below the brilliant blue-white super-giant star known as Rigel in the familiar constellation of Orion in January, 2015.  Lovejoy should remain visible through the month, reaching maximum brightness at mid-month.

To find Rigel, look first for the three familiar stars that mark Orion’s belt. You’ll see three stars in a short, straight line. A line drawn downward at a right or 90-degree angle from Orion’s Belt takes you to Rigel. Just below that you can spot the greenish Comet Lovejoy.

Since antiquity, sky watchers have understood that the sparkling celestial travelers we call comets serve as Skysigns of importance. What might this easily discernible comet portend for 2015?

The Pathway of Comet Lovejoy

The Pathway of Comet Lovejoy

One can hope that the distinctively named Comet Lovejoy – emerging in conjunction with Epiphany in early January –  is in fact an omen for love and joy. Only one thing we know for certain: change is in the air.

With this in mind, we turn to the inspiration of poet Sara Teasdale:

Winter Stars

I went out at night alone:
The young blood flowing beyond the sea
Seemed to have drenched my Spirit’s wings
I bore my sorrow heavily.

But when I lifted up my head
From shadows shaken on the snow
I saw Orion in the east
Burn steadily as long ago…

The Three Kings - Epiphany approaches

The Three Kings – Epiphany approaches

 

 


Four Comets Converge Upon Our Solar System

October 29, 2013

Four comets

Sky Signs all around. Behold the glorious overhanging firmament! Astrophotographers are busy at work  in the early mornings of Autumn, 2013, capturing images of the bonanza of comets now visible in the early morning skies.

You need a good-sized telescope to see these comets, however, but with the Moon now waning as we head toward the momentous November 3 eclipse at 11 degrees of Scorpio (and the 4th momentous square of Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn) we have darker skies and better observing conditions. Eyes aloft! As above, so below.

Above is Comet ISON, photo taken by Damian Peach. The other Comets above, and now in outburst mode as they arrive in the inner realm of our solar system, are Comet Encke, Comet Lovejoy and Comet LINEAR.