19 January, 2007

Comet McNaught Photo Gallery

Pictures of the Comet in the sky, my favourite photos!
from http://www.spaceweather.com/comets/gallery_mcnaught.htm



to view BIG / ENLARGED/ high-resolution!!

Jamie Newman, Papakura, Auckland, New Zealand Jan. 18, 2007

Roberto Solans, Villa La Angostura, Northwestern Patagonia, Argentina. Jan. 18, 2007

Brett Yee, Bombay Hills, South Auckland, NZ Jan. 18, 2007

Gerrit Penning, Bloemfontein, South Africa Jan. 18, 2007 -- Many motorists stopped to have a look at this strange "bush fire" on the horizon, which turned out to be the extravagant tail of McNaught!

Graham Palmer, Hastings New Zealand Jan. 18, 2007 -- Comet McNaught simply floored me with its beauty.

Murray Helm, Auckland, New Zealand Jan. 19, 2007 -- The majesty of Comet McNaught captured from Kariotahi Beach on Auckland's west coast, set against the dire sunset of Australian bushfires raging in the State of Victoria.

Brendan Dickerson, Windhoek, Namibia, Africa Jan. 18, 2007 -- Beautiful evening, clear skies, no city lights, just up the road from the Max Plank Gamma Array Scope in Namibia.

David Clark, Auckland, New Zealand Jan. 18, 2007

Haakon Dahle, Fjellhamar, Norway Jan. 5, 2007

P-M Heden, Vallentuna, Sweden Jan. 8, 2007

Robin Loznak, Great Falls, Montana. Jan. 9, 2007

Patrick Boomer, Southwest of Red Deer, Alberta Jan. 9, 2007

Brian Tkachyk, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada Jan. 8, 2007

Michal Kaluzny, Poland, Leszno Jan. 10, 2007 ... I took this photo today at 5 pm local time--just after the sunset. The comet is fabulous. It is very bright and beautiful. I took several photos, and on one of them I managed to photograph a flock birds.

Bob King, Duluth, Minn. Jan. 9, 2007 ...

The comet shown a beautiful orange in twilight shortly before it set above Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minn., where you can see the ski runs lit for nighttime skiing. What a fantastic view! Photo details: Canon Mark II plus the equivalent of a 540mm telephoto lens at ISO 200.

Click to find the comet to the left of the Statue of Liberty. Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Heights Promenade James Shanks, Jan. 10, 2007

Joni Virtanen, Kokkola, Finland, Europe Jan. 10, 2007

Tony Halliday, Perth Australia , Borge 76mm refractor, on manual tripod mount ( Alt~Azm mount), 28mm Williams optics eye piece, Nikon 4500 digital camera. camera screwed directly on eyepiece. Exposures manual, using 2x zoom in camera, 1/8 second time and manual noise reduction. This photgraph shows the colour induced by atmospheric dust over the Indian Ocean. Dust from the desert region of Western Australia, is often red and gives bright reds & oranges to sun sets.

Mila Zinkova, San Francisco, California, USA Jan. 11, 2007
Paul H Auckland New Zealand 18/1/07 10:00pm Canon Eos Digital - Comet McNaught on sunset

Donald Ensor drensor@attglobal.net Piha (west coast nr Auckland NZ Jan 18 2007; 20:53 Casio EX-Z750 at wide angle, 1 minute exposure. 7 Mb original. The mount was "behind a twig on a dead tree" located along a track above a high cliff over the sea. I was taken by surprise by this comet; an excellent apparition with interesting tail structure.

Gerhard Kupfer, Bopfingen, Baden-Warttemberg, Germany Jan. 13, 2007

Hannes Pieterse Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa 2007-01-16 - 20:09 local time Camera: Canon 30D Lens Canon 75 - 300 f5.6 Lens setting: 300mm F8 Exposure Time 2 seconds ISO 800 Time of exposure: 20:09 local time .. Conditions: Dust in atmosphere. Comet was hidden behind cloud formation which lifted and we had a wonderful display.

Andrew Drawneek Manawatu, New Zealand 2007-01-17@22-00-34 Canon 30D & 135mm f2 lens set to f3.2, 2 sec exposure. Normal tripod. Comet McNaught just before it set. Underexposed slightly and some custom levels applied in Photoshop to bring out the tail.

Grahame Kelaher, Sydney, NSW, Australia Jan. 16, 2007 -- Comet McNaught really put on a show for Sydney tonight, estimated mag was -2.5 (+-0.5). It was easily visible on the horizon for about 30 mins after sunset! Photo details: Canon 20D, ISO 200 with a 70-300mm lens, f/5.6, with 2x teleconvertor.

Jim Lougheed Carp, Ontario Jan. 10, 2007 17:29 EST WO Zenithstar 66 SDwith Pentax DL2 at prime focus. Exposure 1.5 s. f/6 ISO 200. About the best contrast with the darkening sky to show body and tail. 49 minutes after local sunset.

Kevin Crause, Mossel Bay, Western Cape, South Africa Jan. 17, 2007, An incredible naked-eye object last night (17-01-07). First night the comet was visible here due to cloud cover.

Ben and Vic Levis, Lesmurdie, Western Australia Jan. 17, 2007 -- The comet was a stunning sight from the top of the Darling Range, Lesmurdie, overlooking the south of Perth City Photo details: Canon EOS 1Ds MKII, 400mm f2.8L, 135mm f2L both with 2x tele-converter. Exposure range 1/30 to 3 seconds.


CometMcNaugh , Mont Lagazuoi,Jan. 10, 2007

C/2006 P1 (McNaught)--Daily Ephemeris

The following daily ephemeris is from the orbital elements on MPC 58538:
Date    TT    R. A. (2000) Decl.     Delta      r     Elong.  Phase   m1    m2
2007 01 10 19 31.42 -10 08.5 0.963 0.206 12.1 89.5 -0.9
2007 01 11 19 39.34 -11 43.1 0.920 0.186 10.6 104.6 -1.5
2007 01 12 19 47.55 -13 56.4 0.880 0.174 8.6 121.9 -1.9
2007 01 13 19 55.70 -16 49.5 0.849 0.171 6.6 138.6 -2.0
2007 01 14 20 03.34 -20 12.4 0.828 0.178 5.4 148.4 -1.9
2007 01 15 20 10.22 -23 47.1 0.818 0.193 6.4 145.7 -1.6
2007 01 16 20 16.27 -27 16.6 0.818 0.215 8.7 135.9 -1.1
2007 01 17 20 21.61 -30 30.8 0.826 0.240 11.5 125.1 -0.6
2007 01 18 20 26.38 -33 25.7 0.839 0.268 14.2 115.4 -0.1
2007 01 19 20 30.70 -36 00.9 0.856 0.296 16.7 107.0 0.4
2007 01 20 20 34.68 -38 17.8 0.875 0.326 19.0 99.8 0.8
2007 01 21 20 38.40 -40 18.7 0.896 0.355 21.1 93.6 1.3
2007 01 22 20 41.91 -42 05.6 0.917 0.384 23.0 88.3 1.7
2007 01 23 20 45.25 -43 40.5 0.940 0.414 24.7 83.7 2.0
2007 01 24 20 48.46 -45 05.1 0.962 0.442 26.2 79.6 2.4
2007 01 25 20 51.56 -46 20.9 0.985 0.471 27.7 76.1 2.7
2007 01 26 20 54.57 -47 29.2 1.008 0.499 29.0 72.9 3.0
2007 01 27 20 57.51 -48 31.0 1.030 0.527 30.2 70.1 3.3
2007 01 28 21 00.38 -49 27.1 1.052 0.554 31.3 67.6 3.5
2007 01 29 21 03.19 -50 18.3 1.074 0.581 32.4 65.3 3.8
2007 01 30 21 05.96 -51 05.4 1.096 0.608 33.4 63.2 4.0
2007 01 31 21 08.68 -51 48.7 1.117 0.634 34.4 61.4 4.3
2007 02 01 21 11.36 -52 28.7 1.138 0.660 35.3 59.6 4.5
2007 02 02 21 14.01 -53 05.9 1.158 0.686 36.2 58.1 4.7
2007 02 03 21 16.64 -53 40.6 1.178 0.711 37.0 56.6 4.9
2007 02 04 21 19.23 -54 13.0 1.198 0.736 37.8 55.3 5.1
2007 02 05 21 21.80 -54 43.5 1.217 0.761 38.6 54.0 5.2
2007 02 06 21 24.35 -55 12.2 1.236 0.785 39.4 52.9 5.4
2007 02 07 21 26.87 -55 39.3 1.254 0.809 40.2 51.8 5.6

2007 02 08 21 29.38 -56 05.1 1.272 0.833 40.9 50.8 5.7

Historical Comet Observations by Karen Meech


To primitive man, a comet was something to be feared, a portent of an impending disaster. Because comets brighten relatively rapidly when they get close to the sun, and because bright comets (visible to the naked eye) are relatively rare, comets would appear in the sky suddenly and unexpectedly. In addition, near perihelion, comet tails can extend millions of kilometers in space (making them the largest objects in the solar system), thus depending on the geometry of the orbit, the tail can have a length projected against the sky which is a large fraction of the celestial sphere. In an era where the celestial realm was the realm of the gods, the sudden appearance of an unknown object which dominated the night sky was terrifying.

Comets have been personified from early times.

In the Greek Era, the nature of the comets was intensely debated, but the theme of fear was prevalent as seen in this cometary quote from the greatest Greek author of antiquity, Homer:

"[The helmut of Achilles shone] like the red star, that from his flaming hair shakes down disease, pestilence, and war" (Iliad, Bk. XIX, 11, 380-3).

The Bayeux Tapestry chronicles the appearance of Halley's comet.

One of the most familiar comets, Halley's comet, played a prominent role in history because of its large nucleus and therefore great brightness and longevity. In 1066 when King Harold was overthrown by William the Conquerer at the Battle of Hastings, the cause of the event seems to have been pegged on a celestial visitor as is shown by the appearance of Halley's comet in the Bayeux Tapestry (left) which chronicles the event. In 1456, on a return passage, Halley's comet was excommunicated as an agent of the devil by Pope Calixtus III, but it didn't do any good - the comet has continued to return! During this same apparition, while Turkish forces were laying seige to Belgrade, the comet was described as a fearsome celestial apparition "with a long tail like that of a dragon" which was perceived by some as being in the form of "a long sword advancing from the west ... " (Moore and Mason, 1984).

According to Chambers (1909), there are only a handful of comets which may be considered to be "remarkable". The list, reproduced below, comprises only 32 comets in the past 1000 years, indicating that we might expect an exceptional comet on average only 3 times per century. These remarkable comets are noteworthy for their extended visibility (including daytime visibility), and their exceptional brightness and spectacular features, which included reddish colors, multiple tails, jets and haloes.

Comets appeared suddenly and were seen by a multitude of people.

The Great Comet of 1843 as seen from Kent, England (Chambers, 1909). Because these comets appear suddenly and are seen by a multitude of people, nobody can be claimed as the discoverer. One of the most spectacular historical comets was the Great Comet of 1811 (Flaugergues) which was observed for an unprecedented 17 months. When discovered, it was 5th magnitude and over 2 AU from the sun. The maximum tail length was estimated to be 100 million miles. This comet attracted the attention of Napoleon as presaging his invasion of Russia, yet others wondered "what misfortune does it bring?" (Chambers, 1909).

Comets have seemingly always had a bad reputation, they just seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The faithful in Europe prayed for mercy from their enemies in the fifteenth century. And it was many enemies these people had. The Turks were invading and conquering, the devil was running rampant, it seemed no-one was safe. And included in the list of enemies, was a bright comet in the sky. It gave rise to a common prayer back then:

"Lord, save us from the devil,
the Turk, and the comet...

When Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C., there was a bright comet in the sky, that some said foretold of his death, and others said, it carried Caesar's soul into heaven.

In the year 1066, King Harold proposed the comet in the sky at the time, to be an evil omen of things to come. Shortly afterwards, he led his armies into battle, against William the conquerer!

A comet in the sky was blamed for the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1631.

A lot of people in London shook their fists at the comet of 1665 as they died of bubonic plague. London was the only major city ravaged by the plague that year. However, elsewhere, when people saw the comet, they were busy moving out of the range of volcanos!

When Comet Halley visited in 1910 it was discovered that the Earth would pass through the comet's tail. When Astronomers mentioned trace amounts of cyanide gas were in the tail (far too sparse to ever have an effect) this got blown way out of proportion. Gas Masks were a hot item in 1910, as were "comet pills" which made one doctor quite rick.

In 1973 the Children of God distributed pamphlets proclaiming that Comet Kohoutek was sent to announce the end of the world. The comet itself was a disappointment, the media had hyped it up a great deal and astronomers had believed it would become very bright as it swung around the sun. No matter that you nearly had to strain your eyes to see it, the cultists still claimed it was the end of the world.

And of course, most recently were the 39 deaths of the Heaven's Gate cult. The cult was inspired by some misinformation from an amateur astronomer, Chuck Shramek of Texas. Shramek photographed the comet and saw what eventually turned out to be a star, but Shramek reported it as a "saturn like object following the comet." The cult's leader decided this object was a spacecraft, long awaited, according to their prophecies. Their actions led to suicide.

It is interesting to note that with Comet Hyakutake there was only a few weeks notice for the comet's appearance. There was no cult surfacing proclaiming doomsday or other horrors. Apparently these things take time to build up, with help from media hype. It is sad though to look back over the centuries and see that superstitions still abound. In spite of the attempts to educate, fear and superstition can still rule some people, and a graceful visit from a celestial object can lead to tragedy. It gives us all a deeper responsibility to teach children not to fear the unknown.


Paranoia and superstition

Comet Hale-Bopp over Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, USA
Comet Hale-Bopp over Zabriskie Point, Death Valley, USA

In many cultures, comets have historically been viewed as bad omens and viewed with great suspicion. Perhaps because of the very long build-up to Hale-Bopp's passage, and its rare size and activity, the comet became the subject of many bizarre beliefs and theories.

In November 1996, amateur astronomer Chuck Shramek of Houston, Texas took a CCD image of the comet, which showed a fuzzy, slightly elongated object nearby. When his computer sky-viewing program did not identify the star, Shramek called the Art Bell radio program to announce that he had discovered a "Saturn-like object" following Hale-Bopp. UFO enthusiasts, such as remote viewing proponent Courtney Brown, soon concluded that there was an alien spacecraft following the comet. In fact, the object was simply an 8.5-magnitude star, SAO141894, which did not appear on Shramek's computer program because the user preferences were set incorrectly. [2] Reportedly, Shramek refused to admit to his mistake when this was pointed out to him.

Later, Art Bell even claimed to have obtained an image of the object from an anonymous astrophysicist who was about to confirm its discovery. However, astronomers Olivier Hainaut and David J. Tholen of the University of Hawaii stated that the alleged photo was an altered copy of one of their own comet images [3].

A few months later, in March 1997, the cult group Heaven's Gate chose the appearance of the comet as a signal for their mass cult suicide. They claimed they were leaving their earthly bodies to travel to the spaceship following the comet.

September 9, 1999
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download   the highest resolution version available.

Comet Hale-Bopp Over the Superstition Mountains
Credit & Copyright: William R. Dellinges

Explanation: Four years ago, Comet Hale-Bopp was discovered out near Jupiter falling toward the inner Solar System. Two years ago, it provided spectacular pictures as it neared its closest approach to the Sun. Still today, spectacular pictures of the brightest comet of the 1990s are surfacing. Above, Comet Hale-Bopp was photographed in 1997 behind the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. Clearly visible are the comets white dust tail that shines by reflected sunlight, and the blue ion tail that shines by glowing gas. Currently, there are several comets visible from the proper location with a small telescope. A comet visible to the unaided eye appears about once every five years.

2007 January 18

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Southern Comet
Credit & Copyright: Noel Munford (Palmerston North Astronomical Society, New Zealand)

Explanation: After a remarkable performance in the northern hemisphere, the brightest comet in decades is now showing off in the south. Recorded during evening twilight on January 17, this view features the bright coma and gorgeous, sweeping tail of Comet McNaught (c/2006 P1) over Lake Horowhenua in Levin, a small town on New Zealand's North Island. Astronomer Noel Munford reports that the five second long digital camera exposure comes close to capturing the visual appearance of the comet in a sky coloured by smoke from distant brush fires in Australia. Discovered last summer by R. H. McNaught (Siding Spring Survey), the comet grew impressively bright in early January and has even been sighted in full daylight. In the coming days Comet McNaught will continue to move south, for now a spectacle

2007 January 17
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Comet McNaught from New STEREO Satellite

Explanation: The brightest comet of recent decades was a surprising first sight for a new camera in space. The Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) instrument onboard the Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) satellite had just opened up on January 11 when it snapped the above image of Comet McNaught. Visible was a spectacular view of the ion tail of Comet McNaught being swept away from the Sun by the solar wind in filamentary rays. The comet tail is seen to extend at least seven degrees across the above image, while the central coma is so bright it saturates. Comet McNaught is now reportedly so bright that it is visible even in broad daylight by blocking out the Sun with your hand. Comet McNaught has rounded the Sun and will slowly fade away for observers in Earth's Southern Hemisphere as it recedes from the Sun.

2007 January 15
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Comet McNaught Over Catalonia
Credit & Copyright: Juan Casado (skylook.net)
Explanation: This past weekend Comet McNaught peaked at a brightness that surpassed even Venus. Fascinated sky enthusiasts in the Earth's northern hemisphere were treated to an instantly visible comet head and a faint elongated tail near sunrise and sunset. Recent brightness estimates had Comet McNaught brighter than magnitude -5 (minus five) over this past weekend, making it the brightest comet since Comet Ikeya-Seki in 1965, which was recorded at -7 (minus seven). The Great Comet of 2007 reached its brightest as it rounded the Sun well inside the orbit of Mercury. Over the next week Comet McNaught will begin to fade as it moves south and away from the Sun. The unexpectedly bright comet should remain visible to observers in the southern hemisphere with unaided eyes for the rest of January. The above image, vertically compressed, was taken at sunset last Friday from mountains above Catalonia, Spain

2007 January 13
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Comet Over Krakow
Credit & Copyright: Andrzej Sawow
Explanation: Bright Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) graced the twilight this week, seen by many and often described with superlatives. Watching the skies over Krakow, Poland, Andrzej Sawow recorded this view on Wednesday - with an ordinary handheld digital camera. He notes that "... astronomy is really for everyone who loves to look at the night sky. And fortunately (sometimes) the sky generously rewards its observer". Now very close to the Sun, Comet McNaught (along with Mercury) is visible in realtime images from the SOHO spacecraft. Otherwise, skywatchers will find the comet hard to see this weekend. But southern hemisphere observers could be rewarded next week as Comet McNaught begins to climb higher in southern skies

2007 January 9
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

McNaught Now Brightest Comet in Decades
Credit & Copyright: Jens Hackmann
Explanation: The brightest comet in decades is unexpectedly now visible. The most optimistic predictions have Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) shortly becoming one of the brightest comets of the past century. For the next few days, its short tail and bright coma can be spotted with the unaided eye close to the Sun and near the horizon in both evening and morning skies. This dramatic picture of the comet shining through cloudy skies was taken near sunset on January 7 from Bad Mergentheim, Germany

2007 January 5
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.

Comet McNaught Heads for the Sun
Credit & Copyright: Michael Jager and Gerald Rhemann

Explanation: Early morning risers with a clear and unobstructed eastern horizon can enjoy the sight of Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) in dawn skies over the next few days. Discovered in August by R. H. McNaught (Siding Spring Survey) the comet has grown bright enough to see with the unaided eye but will soon be lost in the glare of the Sun. Still, by January 11 sun-staring spacecraft SOHO should be able to offer web-based views as the comet heads toward a perihelion passage inside the orbit of Mercury. This image captures the new naked-eye comet at about 2nd magnitude in twilight skies near sunset on January 3rd. After rounding the Sun and emerging from the solar glare later this month, Comet McNaught could be even brighter.

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posted by u2r2h at Friday, January 19, 2007


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