Stargazing: Comet Lovejoy brightens and Venus sinks

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As highly publicized Comet ISON was rushing toward its fateful encounter with the sun last month, another comet has quietly become visible in our morning sky. Comet Lovejoy, currently shining at about 4th magnitude, now appears as a small fuzzy blob to the naked eye 20 degrees above the east-northeastern horizon. The comet, however, is best viewed under a dark sky with binoculars. With optical aid, the comet's tail will come into view.

Look for Comet Lovejoy this week, in the east-northeastern sky, 90 minutes before sunrise. The comet is currently to the right of the "keystone" pattern of stars that make up Hercules.

As 2013 comes to an end, so will Venus' current appearance in the evening sky. Our sister planet is sinking toward the southwestern horizon and will be lost in the glare of the sun early next month. Look for our "evening star," currently shining at a dazzling -4.6 magnitude, 17 degrees above the southwestern horizon at 5:30 p.m.

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