Comet Lulin's (C/2007 N3) perihelion (closest approach to Sun) occurred on Jan 10, 2009. As the comet swings around the Sun, it makes it closest approach to Earth (0.41 AU) on February 24, 2009. This occurs at the same time as the February 24-25 Aquarius New Moon, but in the opposite part of the ecliptic (in late Leo). The comet conjoins Saturn (also in late Leo) 24 hours before the New Moon and then Ceres on the New Moon. Saturn and this greenish beauty is definitely a sight for sky-watchers. Comet Lulin should increase in brightness to about 5th magnitude as it approaches Earth, which is dimly visible to the unaided eye but easy to see with binoculars; and should be spectacular through telescopes.
Just as Comet Lulin is at its closest point to Earth, just hours before the New Moon of Feb 25, 2009, Saturn and Comet Lulin will conjoin in the constellation Leo, and the two are just 2 degrees apart as seen in the heavens. This also occurs when four of Saturn's Moons will be seen transiting across Saturn's surface--a rare Saturn event:
The Comet Lulin-Saturn conjunction can be seen around 1:00 AM Feb 24, Tuesday morning, local time, from all parts of the globe. The New Moon dark sky provides ideal viewing conditions. To the unaided eye, Comet Lulin looks like a faint patch of gas next to Saturn. Through a backyard telescope, you will see the green comet with its double tail.
The quadruple transit of Saturn's moons is visible only from the Pacific Rim. The lunar transits start around 3 a.m. PST on Feb 24. See the animation of this event below.
Comet Lulin will continue to be visible over the next several days, so keep watching (a great sight through binoculars or a telescope). Comet Lulin conjoins Regulus of Leo on Feb 27; Praesepe of Cancer on March 5-6; and the Gibbous Moon on March 7, 2009 in Cancer, just 1° apart--presented in the Feb 25, 2009 Lunar Planner (for subscribers).
See a movie of Saturn's conjunctions through Virgo and Leo, conjoining Saturn (Feb 24, 2009), Regulus, Praesepe and the Moon - at the bottom of this web page.
See a movie of the quadruple transit of Saturn's moons. Saturn's moons are rarely edge-on to Earth - about every 14 to 15 year - at the bottom of this web page.
Comet Lulin's extreme hyperbolic orbit
Comet Lulin from January 2009 through February 2009
Comet Lulin has an extreme hyperbolic orbit, because of this, it is possible that this is the comet's first visit to the inner reaches of our solar system. Comet Lulin (C/2007 N3) was discovered in 2007 by a team of astronomers from Taiwan and China. The Comet was named after the Lulin Observatory in Taiwan where the discovery-photo was taken.
Comet Lulin's tail was ripped off on February 4, 2009, (happen-stance at the time of the second Saturn-Uranus opposition), as witnessed by a team of Italian astronomers using a remotely-controlled telescope in New Mexico.
Comet Lulin Viewing Chart
Moving east to west, Comet Lulin conjoins Saturn under the Tail of the Lion 24 hours before the New Moon, at which time it is also closest to Earth. Comet Lulin should increase in brightness to about 5th magnitude as it approaches Earth, which is dimly visible to the unaided eye but easy to see with binoculars.
Comet Lulin Ecliptical Chart (sidereal zodiak)
The path of Comet Lulin through Virgo and Leo in February 2009.
Comet Lulin conjoins Saturn 24 hours before the New Moon. The Comet is moving east to west around the Sun (through the ecliptic), in the opposite direction of normal planetary movement. This is Earth's precessional direction, which is more related to the evolutionary path of the soul collective--that supporting the greater interest of the human collective. Comet Lulin's conjunction with Saturn (currently retrograde) (about 2° apart) suggests Lulins's influence to be like a wind moving against Saturn's stoic momentum, perhaps aiding to ruffle the feathers of society's established structural systems and those of our lives, aiding in the current re-structuring process of those structures as discussed in the article "The Five Saturn-Uranus Retrogrades 2008-2011." Comet Lulin then conjoins Regulus of Leo, and then Praesepe of Cancer, perhaps helping to illuminate or make visible that which is behind the scenes, what we normally do not see or do not want to look at. Comet Lulin conjoins the Gibbous Moon's on March 8, 2009 (passing quickly as move in opposite directions, less than 1° apart) may provide a strong and refreshing and illuminating gust of wind in our personal lives. This wind of change occurs as we enter the "pollinating phase" of the lunar cycle, which is a social time of communication and magnetic attraction.
Comet Lulin conjoins Haumea, Makemake, Saturn, Ceres and Orcus during its closest approach to Earth.
Comet Lulin conjoins Saturn on Feb 24 just hours before the February 25, 2009 New Moon.
Planetary Movement west to east <--
Comet Lulin Movement east to west -->
The Path of Comet Lulin from Feb 13, 2009 through March 8, 2009
Lulin conjoins Saturn on Feb 24 (2° apart); Regulus of Leo on Feb 27 (~0.5° apart);
Preasepe, the Beehive star clsuter in Cancer on March 5-6 (1.75° apart) ;
and the Gibbous Moon on March 8 (1° apart).
The "shadow cones" of the moons are shown in the above animation.
When they are in line with Saturn, a moon's shadow is then seen on the planet's surface.
View time starts on Tuesday morning, February 24 at 10:54 UT
(3:54 AM MST) (2:54 AM PST) around the Pacific Rim
A small telescope will capture the comet, Saturn and the quadruple lunar transit.
Comet Lulin will be right beside Saturn.
You can post comments about this article or about Comet Lulin
in the Lunar Planner Forum: Subforum: Comet Lulin
This image of Comet Lulin taken Jan. 28 merges data acquired by Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (blue and green) and X-Ray Telescope (red). Credit: NASA/Swift/Univ. of Leicester/Bodewits et al.
A gallery of amateur pics of Comet Lulin are posted on
NASA's Swift Gamma-ray Explorer satellite spies on Comet Lulin
Learn more about "Saturn's Ring Plane Crossings
--when Saturn's rings are seen edge-on from Earth."
Reference for the Saturn event:
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Copyright © 2009 Nick Anthony Fiorenza, All Rights Reserved
Animations and sky charts - Carina Software Voyager