"I used the observatory's 20-inch telescope for an exposure of 24 minutes," he says. "The image shows the comet's bright tail and an anti-tail."
Right now, Comet Lulin is gliding through the constellation Libra in the southeastern sky before dawn: sky map. It glows like an 8th magnitude star, so a mid-sized backyard telescope is required to see it. Visibility will improve in February as the Earth-comet distance shrinks. At closest approach (0.41 AU) on February 24th, the comet should brighten to about 5th magnitude--dimly visible to the unaided eye and an easy target for binoculars: ephemeris.
Surprises are possible. The near-parabolic orbit of Comet Lulin suggests this could be the comet's first visit to the inner solar system. How it will react to increasing sunlight is anyone's guess. Stay tuned for updates in the weeks ahead.
This post has been edited by Earendel: 08 January 2009 - 11:55 PM