On December 3, 2013, astronomers from the U.S. and Japan used a wide-field camera on the orbiting Subaru Telescope to capture this beautiful image of the tail of Comet Lovejoy. At that time, the comet was 50 million miles (80 million km) from Earth and 80 million miles (130 million km) from the sun. As Comet ISON has fizzled, Comet Lovejoy has become a big attraction to those willing to search for it in dark skies of Earth.
This month, if you can find the Big Dipper late at night or before dawn – and if you have a dark sky, free of city lights – you, too, might be able to spot it. Click here for information and charts on how to find Comet Lovejoy.
A team of astronomers from Stony Brook University (the State University of New York at Stony Brook), the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), and others captured the photo above, which shows the complex, wiggling streams in the tail of Comet Lovejoy.
Bottom line: Astronomers used the Subaru Telescope to capture this beautiful photo of the intricate flow in the tail of Comet Lovejoy on December 3, 2013. This comet is now visible from Earth, in dark skies.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.