Since Comet Lulin won't be visiting this neighborhood for at least another 1,000 years, skywatchers might want to hie themselves and the children outside to view the upcoming heavenly, once-in-a-millenium show! Below you'll see a a generous handful of spectacular pix and "forecast" graphics of Comet Lulin and the conjunction of the new moon and three planets.
Below: Three different views of Comet Lulin's parabolic orbit on Tues., Feb. 24, 2009 (the evening before Ash Wednesday).
Comet Lulin is traveling backward in orbit - that is, from east to west. The planets and our moon travel west to east. (For color-coding explanations, please see the note directly under the three following graphics.)
Note: "The orbits shown above are color coded. The planets are white lines, and the asteroid/comet is a blue line. The bright white line indicates the portion of the orbit that is above the ecliptic plane, and the darker portion is below the ecliptic plane. Likewise for the asteroid/comet orbit, the light blue indicates the portion above the ecliptic plane, and the dark blue the portion below the ecliptic plane." To see and play with a "moving" diagram of Comet Lulin's orbit with an applet from which these graphics came, please visit Solar System Dynamics (NASA).