Tag Archives: Comet Lovejoy

Lovejoy the Tail Wagging Comet

Morning readers.  Thanks for coming by.  The traffic’s down on the blog so far I figure I can talk about Lovejoy a bit more without boring too many people back to sleep.  First, here’s what’s on Spaceweather dot com about it this morning:

THE AMAZING TAIL OF COMET LOVEJOY: Widespread reports of Comet Lovejoy‘s tail are being received from around the southern hemisphere. The ghostly plume emerges just before sunrise, jutting vertically upward into the eastern sky ahead of the sun.

“I observed the comet with my unaided eye for 55 minutes this morning,” says Colin Legg of Mandurah, Western Australia. “I also captured a timelapse sequence of the comet rising as twilight progressed.” Click on the image at the site to set the scene in motion.

“In the image you can see 2 tails,” notes Clegg. These are the dust and ion tails. The gaseous ion tail is blow almost directly away from the sun by the solar wind, while the heavier, brighter dust tail more closely follows the comet’s orbit.

The visibility of both tails could improve in the days ahead as the comet moves away from the sun and the background sky darkens accordingly. Early-rising sky watchers should be alert for this rare apparition. [finder chart]


Edit 8:00AM:  I decided to try to embed that video by Colin Legg here so’s I can watch it without trying to remember how to get back to the site:


Comet Lovejoy (2011 W3) rising over Western Australia from Colin Legg on Vimeo.

Over the next while I’m figuring to attempt to duplicate the behavior of that tail inside a fish bowl full of circulating water orbiting a tube of permanent magnets stacked atop one another, then electromagnets if the permanent ones don’t do the trick.  I’ll have an anode on one side of the fishbowl, a cathode on the other injecting, first colloidal iron, then if necessary, other metals into the circulating water.

I’m harboring a lot of curiosity about what that tail’s saying.

But for those of you who don’t click the spaceweather site I’ll give you this thing some guy did with a pinhole camera and a beercan showing the anelemma of the sun over several months:

THE SUN IN A BEER CAN: I have captured the sun in an empty beer can,” reports Jan Koeman of Kloetinge, the Netherlands. In June 2011, Koeman assembled a solargraph–a simple pinhole camera consisting of a beer can lined with photographic paper–and for the past six months he has used it to record the sun’s daily motion across the Dutch sky. Today he removed the photo-paper for inspection. 

“This is what a photo with an exposure time of nearly 6 months looks like,” says Koeman. The highest arcs were traced by the summer sun of June 2011. The lowest arc was made just today, Dec. 21st, on the eve of the 2011 winter solstice. Occasional gaps are caused by clouds.

Curiously, Koeman had more than one empty beer can to work with on that hot summer day in June when he began his project, so there are multiple views to enjoy. Click here for more solargraphs.

Got me thinking maybe all that weirdness we’ve been seeing across the face of Old Sol lately might be the result of a combination of a hangover and spending several months jail-time inside a beer can.

Old Jules