Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3)

Posted by Lydia on February 6th, 2009

Update February 19, 2009: Comet Lulin is near Spica right now and next week may be observed near Saturn. Wish for clear skies this weekend!

If you’re looking for another observing object you should check out Comet Lulin this week. It is about magnitude 6.5, visible with binoculars or telescope in the early in the morning hours before sunrise, slightly “north” of the head of Scorpius. The comet will be at its closest to us and a highly visible 5th magnitude object on February 24.

According to those who have seen it, Lulin is a greenish hue with a tail and anti-tail and is moving at a pace of about 5 degrees per earth day backwards along the elliptic.

In March, Lulin will be visible crossing from Leo into Cancer and becomes an evening observing target. On March 5th look for Comet Lulin near Delta Cancri and The Beehive Cluster (M44). As an early evening observing target mid March, Comet Lulin will be visible near Delta Geminorum. Fading and slowing in its journey from March through the month of May, Comet Lulin bids us farewell as it glides by 36 Geminorum and closes out the month disappearing into the sunset.
Comet Lulin was discovered on 11 July 2007 by a 19 year old Chinese student, Quanzhi Ye of mainland China’s Sun Yat-sen University. It was originally believed to be an asteroid from images taken by Chi Sheng Lin at Lulin Observatory in Taiwan but confirmed a comet a week later. China and Taiwan are calling it “The Comet of Cooperation”. It seems this may be Comet Lulin’s first voyage into our solar system.

6 people have commented

marlon said,

well, you seems to believe that everyone is an astronomer. to an ordinary individual, what is spica? what is libra? where is saturns location? etc… why dont you explain in layman’s term the location of lulin or how to locate it in simplest term? for example: will we be looking east, west, north, south? or underground to see it? pls be generous to others who are not familiar with astronomy,,, like myself!

marlon said,

im from the philippines. thank you.

Eric said,


Here’s a link with a little more layperson-friendly instructions.

I hope it helps.

Cody Hutchingame said,

WALLACEBURG — Nine-year-old Brittany Hutchingame wasn’t going to miss the Lulin comet, which made its closest approach to Earth about 3 a.m. Tuesday.
The budding astronomer awoke about 2:50 a.m., crept out of her Duncan Street home, strolled down the street and stood on a snow bank to get a shot of her first comet as it crossed the southeast sky about 38 million miles from Earth.
After setting the zoom to its highest level on her point-and-shoot digital camera, she captured a beautiful image of the green glowing comet, which is made up of cyanogen, a poisonous gas found in many comets, and diatomic carbon. Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space, according to science @ NASA website.
Brittany said her papa, Gord Luxton, had sent her an e-mail about the comet’s approach.
“I kind of hand to squint to see it,” she said of trying to spot the comet.
She knew last night was probably her only chance to see it. According to a story in the Taipei Times — where the comet was discovered by Taiwanese astronomer Chi Sheng Lin at the Lulin Observatory in July 2007 — the comet takes more than 20 million years to complete its orbit.
Brittany said, “I just wanted to see the comet so bad.”
She gets her love of astronomy from her stargazing nana, Crystal Luxton, who is envious that Brittany got a better view of the Lulin comet than she did.

Luxton said she was working the midnight shift at a local nursing home when she went outside to look for the comet through binoculars.

“I could barely see it with the naked eye,” she said, noting there was a lot of ambient light that hindered the view.
She added the view wasn’t much better with binoculars because they can’t be held still enough.
When asked if she is jealous of Brittany, Luxton joked: “I am. This is a big deal to me.”
She told her granddaughter the next time a comet is scheduled to past by Earth, “I’m coming to your house.”
Luxton said she’s seen the Hale-Bopp comet before. The first comet she viewed was the Hyakutake comet, which flew by the Earth in 1996, she added.
Brittany’s mother, Cody Hutchingame, admits she only found out about one hour before The Chatham Daily News arrived for an interview, exactly what her daughter did to get her picture.
“I was kind of thinking she just stepped out on the front porch,” she laughed.

Dileep Sathe said,

The recent approach of comet Lulin reminds the collision of comet Shoemaker-Levy with the Jupiter in July 1994. As Jupiter has several moons, a comet can collide with a moon. But some of them are forward orbiting and some in the opposite, so predicting the collision is bit difficult. The said difficulty takes us to a global n chronic problem in the teaching / learning of Circular Motion. Interested readers can see my Letter in Physics Education, a bimonthly from UK, November 1995, p. 327 or contact me on +91-020-65100495 or my cellphone: 9922467861or write me on “Prerana Apts / A-40 / Kasturba Society / Dighi Post / Pune / MH / 411015 / INDIA

cory said,

i think this little girl should get a scholarship for her choice of college. she seems like a very special person and is well brought up to strive for what she believes in and well goal oriented.

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