Tag: "comet mcnaught"

SOHO's view of Comet McNaught

As I promised a few days back, here's a complete video of Comet McNaught passing through the LASCO camera on SOHO telescope.

You can really start to see the solar wind fan the tail out as it goes around the Sun, which is why images in the northern hemisphere, show a largely straight tail, yet ones in the southern hemisphere show a much more diffuse tail as the solar wind pushes the tail away from the Sun.

The reason it looks so over-exposed is because the LASCO camera is designed to look at the faint outer atmosphere of the Sun. Even the planet Mercury, shown in this footage to the lower left causes the pixels to bleed into each other creating horizontal lines. Comet McNaught is far too bright to be properly exposed.

You can find more information about SOHO on the SOHO website, or download the videos here.

Comet McNaught in the southern hemisphere

Comet McNaught has now moved into the twilight skies in the southern hemisphere, captured here in this photo by Noel Munford taken from Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1)

So if you're lucky enough to live in the southern hemisphere go take a look at this comet. It'll be visible for a few weeks now after sunset in the western skies. It is fading, so go take a look as soon as you can.

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.

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.