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Comet ISON fades, Lovejoy all set to offer a visual treat

Pune, Dec 7 (): As the fading of comet ISON happened after its close encounter to Sun on November 28, now another comet Lovejoy, is visible in the sky and it has already been spotted by many amateur astronomers in the northern hemisphere through binoculars.

Lovejoy, scientifically named C/2013 R1, has been visible since early November. The comet was discovered two months ago by an Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy in September and was named after him. The tail of the comer is slowly growing, but right now we may only see its hazy head called the Coma.

Lovejoy came its closest to Earth on November 19, about 37 million miles away, said Earthsky.org. It is near the constellation Bootes and the bright star Arcturus just over the northeast horizon in the early mornings in December. It is likely to be best visible on December 22. It will get closer to the horizon and harder to spot as the month goes on.

Astronomers at Stony Book University in New York used the telescope to capture the image of comet Lovejoy on December 3, when it was 50 million miles from Earth and 80 million miles from the sun. At that time, the comet was 50 million miles (80 million kilometers) away from Earth and 80 million miles (130 million km) away from the Sun.

Samir Dhurde, scientific officer at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), said the comet is currently visible in the northern hemisphere in India including Mumbai and Pune. Since November, it has brightened and can be easily seen with binoculars. From a dark place, the comet may be viewed through naked eyes as a green fuzzy globule.

Arvind Paranjpye, director of Nehru Planetarium in Mumbai, told comet Lovejoy is now visible in the morning sky, but it is far very faint to be viewed with naked eyes. The residents of Pune would need a good telescope if they want to see it.

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