John Lafferty has sent in these great pictures of Comet Lovejoy blazing away south of Tharwa this morning with this note:
Comet Lovejoy as seen from just south of Tharwa this morning. If the skies are clear it should be visible due south tomorrow, but it does vanish by about 5am.
Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3) is a periodic comet, discovered on November 27th 2011, by amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy.
The comet’s path took it through the Sun’s corona on December 16th 2011 and it passed approximately 140,000 kms above the Sun’s surface. It was not expected to survive the encounter, but Sun-monitoring spacecraft, observed the comet emerge from the corona intact
The comet nucleus of Lovejoy is estimated to be as much as 500m before the passage through the corona of the sun. At its brightest the comet had an apparent magnitude of around –4 (about as bright as the planet Venus). It is the brightest comet to appear since Comet McNaught of 2007, which shone at visual magnitude –5.5.