A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2014 Dec 29, 11:11 -0800
Comet Lovejoy is currently an easy object in binoculars --and, at magnitude 5, visible naked-eye in a sky with minimal light pollution. There's an article with nice finder charts at the Sky & Telescope web site. Note that the date ticks on the star charts are for 0 hours UT on the date in question so equivalent to 7pm EST on the previous night.
What you will see in binoculars is a "fuzzy grey blob" (those with experience in backyard astronomy will recognize this technical term!), not terribly impressive but fun nonetheless. The current window of opportunity to spot the comet is about to close since the Moon is waxing. To see it tonight, look in the constellation Lepus. If that's not one that immediately "jumps" to mind (it's a rabbit), don't worry, since it's directly below Orion ("below" for northern hemisphere observers). Tonight, wait until Rigel is right on the meridian, due south, and then scan with your binoculars on the meridian directly below Rigel at the same altitude as the star Sirius. Or, draw an equilateral triangle with one corner at Sirius, one corner at the "left" end of Orion's belt, and the third corner below Orion. You'll find the comet very near that third corner.
The comet is moving fairly rapidly across the sky. After the Moon passes through full on January 4, you can pick the comet up again east of Orion. On January 20, probably fading by then, the comet will be just about halfway between the Pleiades and Hamal (alpha Arietis).
Conanicut Island USA