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Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, on January 10, 2015 at 8:45 p.m. EST. Comet Lovejoy is a periodic comet that last visited the inner solar system about 11,500 years ago. It was discovered on August 17, 2014 by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy. Comet Lovejoy was about 45 million miles from earth and moving to the upper right across the background of the stars in the constellation Taurus when this image was made.

The green color around its head comes primarily from diatomic carbon (C2) fluorescing in ultraviolet sunlight in the near-vacuum of space. The blue color in its ion tail comes from similarly fluorescing carbon monoxide ions (CO+) that have been blown off by the solar wind. A very faint dust tail is slightly visible below and to the left of the comet's head (similar to but much fainter than Hale-Bopp's white dust tail). The dust tail consists of non-ionized dust left behind in the comets orbit. It is slightly more visible in the image from 2015-01-22.

19 minutes L and 15 minutes RGB on 2015-01-10 using a QSI 583 through an Astro-Physics 105mm refractor at f6.2 from northern New Jersey. North is up. 2015

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