Comet McNaught now visible in daylight

Comet McNaught is now the brightest comet in over 40 years, its reached magnitude -5 (that's brighter than Venus), which means in theory it is possible to see it in daylight.

It's very close to the Sun so it's probably best to position yourself so something is covering the Sun, like a building, but still exposing the sky near it. If you're at mid-northern latitudes it'll be towards the left hand side of the Sun. It's only a few degrees away (just over twice the width of Orion's belt) from the Sun, so it will be hard to spot in the glare.

If you've got a pair of binoculars they'll probably help locate it, just make sure the Sun is covered before you start looking through them. Looking directly at the Sun can cause permanent damage to your vision.

The weather forecast at the moment says 6% cloud for Yeovil at 15:00. So with a bit of luck I'll be able to get some images of it. Hopefully it'll be even brighter by then.

Update: Some pictures posted on Space Weather (their whole gallery is here), this photo by Mark Vornhusen:

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) in broad daylight

Update: No luck spotting it here. Got the telescope set up at around 15:45 and ready to roll, cloud then covered the area for about 30 minutes, couldn't locate it in the few minutes before it would have passed below the roof tops. Will try again closer to noon tomorrow, weather permitting but the forecast doesn't sound good with 100% cloud cover.

Comet McNaught enters SOHO's vision

Comet McNaught has now entered the joint ESA and NASA Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)'s field of view, which has been looking at the Sun continuously for over a decade now.

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) from SOHO's LASCO C3 camera

The Sun is in the centre blocked out by a small disc in front of the camera, you can see Mercury to the lower left of the Sun, with Comet McNaught to the left of the image.

They've got an animation (under LASCO/C3) of the passage so far, which really lets you see the solar wind starting to push the tail back. When the comet has moved out of the field of view I'll also put up an animation. The comet should be visible in SOHO until the 15th or 16th. After that people in the southern hemisphere should definitely try and look at this comet.

Windows DreamScene

Earlier this week at the CES Microsoft announced some of their Ultimate Extras, this is a feature in the Ultimate Edition of Vista which periodically pulls down new applications as Microsoft release them. They announced three for launch on the 30th of January; Hold 'Em Poker Game, BitLocker and EFS Enhancements and the one I'm most interested in Windows DreamScene.

Video: Demo of Full Motion Desktop

Basically it allows you to use an MPEG2 or WMV as your desktop wallpaper. Microsoft ship both HD and standard resolution videos which seamlessly loop with the software too.

Windows Vista selling faster than expected

From ZDNet:

The sales outpaced the first month's tally for Windows 2000 [...] Commercial revenue from Vista in December was 62.5 percent above that racked up by Windows 2000 in March 2000, its first month after launch.

The marketing muscle behind the consumer launch should allow Vista sales to businesses to start eclipsing what Microsoft saw with Windows XP.

"Sometime after January 30, when Microsoft makes Vista available to the general public and ratchets up the marketing campaign, I suspect that we will likely see sales of Vista in the commercial channel begin to meet or surpass levels previously set by XP," Swenson said.

Well that's encouraging.

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1)

Managed get a few images of Comet McNaught yesterday evening, but only just as its now so close to the Sun and its been cloudy the last month.

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) from Yeovil, UK

This was taken with a Canon EOS 350D with a 55mm lens, ISO400 with an exposure of 1/3rd of a second. Gamma tweaked in Paintshop Pro. I'll probably post some more images on my gallery over the next week or so.

Yahoo! Messenger for Windows Vista

With the CES underway now in Las Vegas, Yahoo! have just announced their new messenger client for Windows Vista.

Yahoo! Messenger for Windows Vista

It's built from the ground up for Windows Vista and makes use of the Windows Presentation Foundation and also Sidebar Gadgets. It is pretty slick looking. There's a video going over some of its features on their website.

I'll talk about some of the things Microsoft has already announced; Windows Home Server and the Ultimate Extras like Windows Dreamscene over the next few days too.

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