Comet P1 McNaught

With the weather being so bad over the past few weeks (days of fog, rain and a lot of clouds) I haven't really been looking for Comet P1 McNaught which is currently just bright enough to be seen by eye without the need of binoculars.

Comets are like dirty balls of ice that generally are thought to originate in the Oort cloud way out beyond Pluto. They mostly have very elongated orbits around the Sun although some may approach the Sun and then hurtle off into space never to return to the solar system. So at best, an individual comet may reappear at regular intervals. However, these intervals tend to be very long and you may not get another chance to see that comet in your lifetime. That makes sighting a comet pretty special and Davep recounts the thrill that he and his family got yesterday when they saw P1 McNaught. I'm currently sat under thick cloud and am very jealous.

The Society for Popular Astronomy have finding charts to help you know where to look. For an idea of what it looks like, check out the images that Ian Musgrave links to. If you are lazy or like me unable to see through cloud, Jon Shanklin (who has links to more images) says that Comet P1 McNaught is expected to be visible in SOHO spacecraft images of the Sun between January 12th to 15th. After the 15th we are unlikely to see it from the UK. I have my fingers crossed for good weather.

Update: Check out Ian Musgrave's blog for the latest Comet McNaught news in the southern hemisphere where it is still visible.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Thursday 11th Jan 2007 (11:13 GMT) | Permalink
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