Comet Lovejoy was visible Saturday night, the last time the celestial body is expected to be spotted by naked-eye observers on Earth for the next 8,000 years. Described as a fuzzy little cottonball of light that differs from the stars by the director of Los Angeles Griffith Observatory, the comet is known for its greenish glow. Amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy, who discovered the comet during the summer, told the Scientific American that he has been surprised by the comet’s social media fame.
Even the Smithsonian Institute’s Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory in Washington, D.C. got in on the Lovejoy hype, encouraging visitors to seek out the comet.
Amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy, who discovered the comet during the summer, told the Scientific American that he has been surprised by the comet’s social media fame. He’s found four other comets, which didn’t get as much notoriety. This comet, technically named C/2014 Q2, shouldn’t be confused with his other discoveries that go by the same nickname.
“This time it’s been quite insane,” he told the magazine. “In the last week and a half I’ve had at least a thousand Facebook friend requests.”
The comet hasn’t been to the inner solar system in 13,000 years, Lovejoy said, noting that it won’t return for 8,000 years. “It’s kind of cool to think about that.”
Comet Lovejoy was closest to Earth on Jan. 7, when it was 43.6 million miles away, and its forecast to be closest to the sun on Jan. 30. Read more…