Comet Lemmon greens up in southern hemisphere's nightsky

Comet Lemmon greens up in southern hemisphere's nightsky

Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6) is visiting  the inner solar system after almost 11,000 years. Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6) is visible from the southern hemisphere at distance about 92 million miles (0.99 AU) from Earth. Northern hemisphere observers will get their first good look at the comet in early April. The comet is brightening as it approaches the Sun and currently it is glowing like a 7th magnitude star, which is just below the limit of naked-eye visibility. Light curves suggest that it will reach 2nd or 3rd magnitude in late March when it approaches the Sun at about the same distance as Venus (0.7 AU).

Comet Lemmon captured on December 16, 2012 by Michael Jager (left) and on January 28, 2013 by Rolf Wahl Olsen (right) (Credits: Jager/Olsen)

Jets spewing from the comet's nucleus contain cyanogen and diatomic carbon and Lemmon's green color comes from those gases that make up its coma.

Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6) was discovered on March 23, 2012 by A.R. Gibbs from the Mount Lemmon survey in Arizona. Comet Lemmon got elliptical orbit with a period of almost 11,000 years.

Comet Lemmon's finding charts and magnitude graph (Credit: Aerith)
 

JPL Small-Body Database

Feature image: Amateur astronomer Rolf Wahl Olsen captured this picture from his backyard in Auckland, New Zealand on January 28, 2013 (Credit: Rolf Wahl Olsen/SpaceWeather.com)