I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Best Viewing for Comet Lulin is Tonight

Photo Credit: Sky & Telescope

There's a weird, double-tailed comet in the sky this week (the last week in February), and you can spot it with a pair of binoculars. Some people have even been detecting it dimly with their unaided eyes — under very dark, un-light-polluted, rural skies.

You will, however, have to knowexactly where to look. The chart at right should get you there. It shows the starry scene about 9 p.m. this week. (The view will actually be a bit better later at night, when the comet and its background gets higher in the sky. After 10 p.m., look more for this scene toward the southeast.)

The comet, formally known as C/2007 N3 (Lulin), was discovered at Lulin Observatory in Taiwan in July 2007. In telescopes and low-light images, it's showing both a dim gas tail and a dust-spike antitail pointing in nearly the opposite direction. Its current brightness is about magnitude 5.2.

Source: Sky & Telescope (where there are better maps and observing tips)

Be sure and take precautions to keep warm and give your eyes a little while to adapt to the darkness outside, and if you have a pair of binoculars, give them a try as well.

I'll be out there as well, trying to see what I can see.