A Green New Year's Comet for Oregon, the Coast? Yes Indeed
(Oregon Coast) – Sky watchers throughout the western states are already clued in and spotting it, albeit with binoculars. But it's quite possible a fuzzy green comet named Comet Lovejoy will become visible to the naked eye over the next few days, or at least by the middle of January. (Above: star movement at Manzanita).
Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, has only recently begun appearing in the northern hemisphere, and as of December 29 it was clocking in at a magnitude 5.0 in brightness and growing. Some scientists predict the green object could be bright enough to see with the naked eye in the night sky, even in light-polluted suburbs, while one theory puts forth it may even get bright enough to be seen during the day later in January.
If conditions stay clear on the Oregon coast, it may well be easier to spot without the aid of optics, perhaps even New Year's Eve. A gradually increasing full moon may get in the way, however. For those in the Portland area, it's best to get out of city lights. But views from bigger towns in Oregon will get better as January waxes on, and it may well be seen from the suburbs.
See a photo of Comet Lovejoy here.
Sky and Telescope Magazine described it as a “biggish puffball moderately concentrated toward its center, with a hint of an asymmetric shape and possibly a hint of the long,” The green is quite prominent to viewers.
The moon goes away on January 7, which is about when the comet should be getting to its brightest phase. That stage will last about two weeks, even though it will begin to move away from the Sun.
It was discovered in August by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy – making it his fifth comet find.
Scientists say the green glow comes from molecules of diatomic carbon becoming fluorescent in the ultraviolet light of space. This is a fairly common color for comets.
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