Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2

On pauṣa kṛṣṇapakṣa 11, kali 5115 (16th Jan 2015) around 8.10 PM, braving the cold of the height of winter (felt like -5°C) we caught sight of śvetaketu in the constellation of Taurus near the 6 mothers of our patron deity. It was a dhūmagola around the magnitude of 4.3 and clearly visible through our binoculars (20X70) and was about barely visible to naked eye close to the limiting magnitude from our bad observing site. It had a faint tail that was hardly discernible from our site via our instrument. Nevertheless we would place it as one of the brighter and memorable comets of our life. It could be located fairly easily by using the Kṛttikāḥ as the signpost. Thus, it was like a Skanda-graha coursing through the welkin. Indeed, the ancient jaina-s imagined Skanda as a comet emerging from the Kṛttikāḥ and coursing to Bhāratavarṣa to take the embryo of the future tīrthaṃkara the nagna to place him in a kṣatriya womb after removing all the brāhmaṇa molecules from his body and replacing them with clean ones [Indeed the brāhmaṇa hatred of the nagna-s began early!].

Orbit of Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2

Update: On pauṣa kṛṣṇapakṣa 13, kali 5115 (18th Jan 2015) a new observation was made. The comet had cleared moved from Taurus into Aries. Much of the day there was heavy cloud cover and rain which suddenly cleared in the evening leaving behind excellent skies. The comet was more easily seen with naked eye on this day. It appeared to be at the same brightness with a faint hint of a tail in the direction of the Pleiades.

Below is a more zoomed out view of its orbit which gives a feel for the enormity of the distance of the Oort’s cloud, where comets originate, from the planets and the Kuiper belt objects like Pluto, Eris and Makemake with their highly inclined orbits.

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