Comet Lulin

Discovered by Chinese/Taiwanese astronomers, Comet Lulin is an strange one. It moves around the Sun in the opposite direction from the planets in a parabolic orbit that suggests this is its first and last visit to the inner Solar System. It’s not expected to be an amazing naked-eye comet, but it should become visible without a telescope in dark sky in mid February.

It already has a feint tail and anti-tail:

Dr J. Brimacombe

Image: Dr J. Brimacombe

Note that comets are unpredictable (recall last year’s Comet Holmes for a good example). It could flare up and become more spectacular than predicted. At the moment Lulin is moving through the constellation Libra – rising around midnight. It will then move westward toward Virgo and Leo, brightening as it does.

The comet is moving quickly across the sky, at about 5 degrees per day by months end. If you can see it through a telescope, you may be able to see the motion of the comet through the field of view over a period of 10 minutes or so.

Sky & Telescope)

Comet Lulin's path through the sky (Image: Sky & Telescope)

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Posted on 3 February, 2009, in Astronomy News, Popular Science and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Comet Lulin.

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