Hercules and a Comet

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   In the morning skies before the local time for sunrise are the two stars that one follows from the arc in the Big Dipper’s handle — Arcturus in Bootes the Herdsman and Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. Also part of this early morning cosmic scene the planets Mars and Saturn are visible. This graphic to the right shows a view of the sky including the two stars and two planets plus Comet Lovejoy. Comet Lovejoy is currently at about 9th magnitude making it too dim for naked-eye viewing but certainly within the reach of binoculars and telescopes, and of course time exposure pictures as you can see in this beautiful picture taken by P-M Hedén that appeared on the APOD River website on 13 December.
   Locating Comet Lovejoy should be relatively easy as the comet is within a few degrees from the keystone-shaped asterism that forms the chest of Hercules the Hero. Using 7×50 binoculars the entire asterism fits within the field of view of binoculars and if one scans toward the right away from the Keystone Comet Lovejoy may come into view – assuming the sky is dark enough.


   You may notice a fuzzy appearing object on a line between the stars Eta Hercules and Zeta Hercules. This is the globular star cluster known as the Hercules Cluster or M-13 from the Messier Catalog.

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

1 thought on “Hercules and a Comet

  1. Pingback: Halley Came to Jackson | Bob's Spaces

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