With a Full Moon in the sky tonight, UK observers can only view C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy by moonlight or in early morning twilight. Fortunately, Comet Lovejoy is still relatively bright in the constellation Cassiopeia and visible in binoculars. Since it is now a circumpolar object, it doesn’t set as seen from the British Isles. C/2014 Q2 merely dips below the north celestial pole around 3 am GMT to within 20° of the northern horizon in the UK, before rising higher in the sky at dawn.

Observers using GoTo telescopes or instruments equipped with digital setting circles can use the following nightly equatorial coordinates to find Comet Lovejoy quickly:

5th March at 8 pm GMT  —  α = 1h 28.6m  δ = +56°37′ (J2000.0)

This finder chart shows C/2014 Q2’s path through the constellation of Cassiopeia during March 2015. Now that Comet Lovejoy is receding from the Sun and the Earth, its motion against the background stars slows to an average of ⅓° per day this month. Note the comet’s close passage to magnitude 2.7 delta (δ) Cassiopeiae, also known as ‘Ruchbah’ on the 15th. The 5° circle represents the field of view of a typical 10×50 binocular for scale. Click the graphic for a full size version suitable for printing. AN graphic by Ade Ashford

This finder chart shows C/2014 Q2’s path through the constellation of Cassiopeia during March 2015. Now that Comet Lovejoy is receding from the Sun and the Earth, its motion against the background stars slows to an average of ⅓° per day this month. Note the comet’s close passage to magnitude 2.7 delta (δ) Cassiopeiae, also known as ‘Ruchbah’ on the 15th. The 5° circle represents the field of view of a typical 10×50 binocular for scale. Click the graphic for a full size version suitable for printing. AN graphic by Ade Ashford

 

If current magnitude predictions hold true, C/2014 Q2 should fade from around magnitude 6 to magnitude 8 by the end of March 2015. This means that Comet Lovejoy is still an easy target for binoculars and small telescopes, especially when moonless skies return around the 8th.

Seek out a dark, safe location with an unobstructed view of the western sky. The comet will be highest above the northwest horizon at the time twilight ends around 8 pm GMT (though note that the Full Moon will be up throughout the hours of darkness). Use the lowest power eyepiece you have when observing C/2014 Q2 with a telescope.

Comet Lovejoy lies in a rich star field in the constellation Cassiopeia, four-fifths of the way from γ Andromedae (Almach) to the prominent W-shaped asterism of Cassiopeia.

Source: Ade Ashford