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1/12/2009

Catch Winter's Comet Lulin

Comet LulinComet C/2007 N3 (Lulin), discovered in July 2007, should be the highlight comet of this season. It's predicted to reach about 5th magnitude in late February, so it should be easily seen in binoculars. It may even become detectable with the unaided eye in a dark, moonless sky.

The start of 2009 found Comet Lulin glowing at 7th magnitude in Libra, near Lambda (λ) Librae not far from the border of Scorpius. Day by day Lulin is getting higher in the southeast (as seen from mid-northern latitudes) just before start of dawn. It was hidden in the solar glare during November and most of December. Prior to that, observers had followed it from as early as May 2008, when it was 14th magnitude, through late October, when it had risen to 8th.

Image Above: Comet Lulin was still only about 11th or 12th magnitude when Michael Jaeger took this image on Sept. 2, 2008. He used an 8-inch f/2.8 ASA Astrograph with a SXV H9 CCD camera for this stacked pair of 4-minute exposures. Click image for wider view.
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