One more Lovejoy time lapse… maybe the last

By Phil Plait | December 29, 2011 11:46 am

Reports are starting to come in that Comet Lovejoy is fading rapidly, which isn’t too surprising. As it gets farther from the Sun it gets colder, and the ice on its surface doesn’t turn into gas quite so vigorously. It’s the cloud of expanding gas that reflects sunlight and makes a comet bright, so there you go.

Still, astrophotographer Colin Legg managed to get enough shots to make this wonderful time lapse animation of Lovejoy as seen over Esperance, Australia on the evening of December 26/27:

Make sure you make it high resolution, and watch it full screen. The movement of the sky you see here is due to the rotation of the Earth, of course, but if you look carefully you can see the head of the comet moving a small amount relative to the stars.

So it looks like we northern hemispherians may never get a good look at Lovejoy… but you never know. Comets are difficult to predict, and Lovejoy has proven itself to be feisty. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I’ll keep my ear to the ground and my eyes to the sky just in case.

Tip o’ the Whipple Shield to Fraser Cain on Google+.


Related posts:

Time lapse: The spectacle of Comet Lovejoy
INSANELY cool picture of Comet Lovejoy
Time lapse video: ISS cometrise
Lovejoy lives!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (6)

  1. NoPepperGames

    So what’s in the future for Lovejoy? When’s his next return trip?

  2. Steve D

    The Kreutz sun-grazers have extremely elongated orbits. Thousands or tens of thousands of years.

  3. Great time lapse thanks! :-)

    I’d be careful about predicting its the very last one though! Y’never know what’s in the pipeline.

    @1. NoPepperGames : “So what’s in the future for Lovejoy? When’s his next return trip?”

    The amateur astronomer named Terry Lovejoy will hopefully have a very bright future continuing to discover comets and more. Terry Lovejoy’s next trip may well be to the shops or to visit friends and relatives for new years. ;-)

    Reverend Lovejoy’s next appearence and whether it involves travel or just boring preaching and the odd one-liner depends on the producers of ‘The Simpsons’ cartoon.

    Comet Lovejoy (designation C/2011 W3) has an orbital period of 666 years and is due back in 2677 C.E. / AD. So not in our lifetimes. Enjoy it while you can folks! 8)

    Source : Wikipedia – Comet Lovejoy page – click on my name if you’d like to see it for yourselves.

  4. MichaelL

    I can’t help but hear the Rev. Lovejoy speaking in my head whenever I hear the name of this comet!

  5. Messier Tidy Upper

    Thinking of that 666 year orbit I wonder what the “Comet Lovejoy survived because it looked like a Cross!” dingbat here :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySSLfBVBYig&feature=related

    would make of that co-incidence? ;-)

    WARNING – turn DOWN your volume for that clip. Turn it wa-aay down & hover over the mute button ready to click it pronto! Trust me, you’ll want to. Really dreadful “singing” as well as the religious equivalent of a shouty carpet salesman advert. The stoopid there, it burns.

  6. Kris

    Everytime I see a Lovejoy article, I think “Why can’t they leave the nice reverend alone?”

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