Monday, February 23, 2009

Comet Lulin Update: Tonight One Hour Past Midnight

What's the best time to view Comet Lulin tonight? After all, in about 5 hours (EST), the comet is going to converge with Saturn, in the constellation Leo. Also tonight, four of Saturn's moons will "transit the disk" and should be viewable with clear skies and family backyard telescopes. (For details on celestial events, from tonight through Feb. 27, please see the post directly below this one, entitled Comet Lulin: More Things in Heaven and on Earth, Horatio.)

Here's a great tip for tonight (technically, 'tomorrow' since the timing is one hour after midnight):

Where ever you are in the world and whatever your time zone, most reports are now claiming the best viewing time for Comet Lulin and the triple-planetary conjunction will occur early this morning at 1:00 a.m.

That's right: If local skies are clear, Comet Lulin can be seen by everyone around the world, tonight - just after midnight.

In the Northern Hemisphere, look in the south-southeast sky at 1:00 a.m. In the Southern Hemisphere, look in the north-northwest at 1:00 a.m. Remember, Comet Lulin is traveling 'backward" and it will also be close to the triple-planetary conjunction now lining up.

Unaided "naked eye" viewing will probably see a small, faint patch of gas (next to Saturn) - that's the comet. Help from binoculars or a telescope, however, will allow those with clear skies to see comet details, as well as witness Comet Lulin's actual motion as it moves across the stars.

Only those living on the Pacific Rim, however, will see the quadruple transit of Saturn's four moons (3 a.m., PST).

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