Sky watchers in the Northern Hemisphere have not one, but two comets in the sky right now to watch out for. The even better news: if you find one, you can find the other as both are within just a few degrees of each other. So, how does one go about seeing this once in a lifetime sight?
For starters, to track down the comets, one has to get up early (or stay up really late) and look in the Southern sky to the constellation of Ophiuchus, the mythological serpent bearer. Can't see it? Well, Ophiuchus is a large, dim constellation, but the good news is that it is easy to find thanks to be being the large void above Scorpius and below Hercules. That done, use this map to further zero in on the comets, LINEAR and Lovejoy.
As for seeing them with the eye, optical aid as needed as both shine in the 8th magnitude, with Lovejoy being slightly brighter than LINEAR. Under dark skies, it should be easy to sweep up the comets in a pair of modestly-sized binoculars. For the rest of us who have to lie under city lights to varying degrees, a telescope will be required. The bigger the scope, the better for picking up the fuzzy comets. To get the best view, use a low-power eyepiece for a wide-angle field of view.
Needless to say, getting two comets of this brightness so close to each other in the sky is a rare opportunity that shouldn't be missed!
As always, would-be sky watchers in the Cleveland area should be sure to keep an eye on the Cleveland weather forecast and, for hour-by-hour cloud predictions, the Cleveland Clear Sky Clock. Live somewhere else? Find a clock and see if it will be clear near you.
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