Spectacular Comet Lovejoy, a dirty snowball, outshines M79 star cluster

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[CLICK ON IMAGE FOR HIGH RESOLUTION, Dieter Willasch (Astro-Cabinet)]

lovejoyComet Lovejoy has become visible to the unaided eye ….

Pictured here, Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) was … passing nearly in front of M79, the globular star cluster visible as the bright spot slightly above and to the left of the comet’s green-hued coma.

The nucleus of Comet Lovejoy is a giant dirty iceberg that is shedding gas into a long and intricate ion tail, extending across the image, as it nears the Sun. The comet is expected to become even easier to spot for northern observers during January, as it is rises earlier and, hopefully, continues to brighten.

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