Emily LakdawallaFeb 23, 2009

Got binoculars? Spot a comet near Saturn tonight

The greenish comet Lulin, more formally known as C/2007 N3, has been approaching Earth for some time and will, tomorrow, be at its brightest, as it'll reach its closest approach to us. But it might be easiest to spot tonight, as it will be passing especially close to Saturn. (Close, that is, in the flattened geometry of our sky; it's actually much, much closer to us than it is to Saturn.) Although Lulin technically a naked-eye object, if you're graced with particularly dark skies, it's more reasonably a binocular target for most people. The good news is that even if you live in a fairly light-polluted location, binoculars should still reveal it. (Or so I'm told.)

Spotting comet Lulin

Philip Jones
Spotting comet Lulin
Comet Lulin climbs higher in the east-southeast each night this week. Spot bright Saturn and Regulus, and use them to zero in on the comet's position for your date. (The comet's positions marked are for the evening of the date indicated in the time zones of the Americas. The orientation of the view with respect to the horizon is for North America.) Credit: Sky & Telescope

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