Someone must have written "comet" on a wish list. Santa must have passed this on to Terry Lovejoy, who set to work in his backyard in Thornlands, Queensland, Australia and before long he spotted a big chunk of ice heading towards the inner solar system.
Terry Lovejoy discovered his fifth comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) on 17 August 2014 and published his findings as the comet grew brighter. By Christmas most amateur astronomers had there cameras focussed on this fuzzy ball which last paid a visit to the inner solar system about 11,500 years ago. Excitement mounted when a tail of dust and gas, caused by the force of the Sun's radiation and solar winds, became visible on long exposure photographs and through telescopes.
From very dark locations, the comet can been seen as a fuzzy patch with the naked eye. I found it quite easily through binoculars. This is not a humdinger of a comet but shows as a pretty bluish green object on my photographs taken at Betty's Bay.
The comet will still be visible until mid January for southern hemisphere observers. As darkness falls find the constellation Orion with its three distinctive belt stars. Follow a line to the northwest to the triangle pattern of stars, one being the bright orange star, Aldabaran.
Extend this line and meet the Seven Sisters! Bingo - take out your binocs and scan the sky.The comet's path will be a bit above Aldabaran and the Seven Sisters during the next two weeks. If you miss this one, there will hopefully be more discoveries because C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) will only be back in about 8000 years.
May you start the year filled with Love and Joy. Happy comet hunting.