Comet Lovejoy bids farewell; will return after 8000 years

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Comet Lovejoy was visible last night for the last time through a naked eye and the next time it will be visible to naked-eye observers is after 8,000 years.

Though not bright enough like other well-known comets, Lovejoy managed to trigger intrigue in stargazers across the globe. Griffith Observatory director described the comet as a “fuzzy little cottonball of light that differs from the stars”.

Lovejoy, technically named C/2014 Q2, was closest to Earth on January 7 and will be closest to Sun on January 30. Currently approaching the Sun, the comet was at its brightest last night. The comet will start dimming as it moves towards the Sun and recedes into space. Below is the path that the comet is traversing as it zooms across the solar system.

Comet Lovejoy path

Amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy, who discovered the comet last summer, revealed that the comet hasn’t been in the inner solar system for 13,000 years and won’t return for the next 8,000 years. You can still be able to view the comet, but you would require a strong telescope to do so.

In related stargazing news, asteroid 2004 BL86 will be flying past Earth at a ‘close’ distance in astronomical terms and amateur astronomers and space hobbyists will be able to see it. The best time to view the asteroid as it zooms past Earth is on Monday night.