Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught)

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Comet McNaught Poster

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After midnight on 11th February when the clouds cleared I was able to set my camera with a fisheye lens to take a long exposure while I searched for asteroids at work. By then the head was set, but the tail is seen faintly through the horizon haze extending to the Small Cloud of Magellan galaxy. Extreme stretching of the contrast doesn't show any sign of the tail above the SMC. The Milky Way around Centaurus and Carina is seen on the left side of the image.

Comet McNaught evening 20070211

Thunderstorms and plenty of cloud over the weekend at SSO, so here is a panorama made on the evening of 11th February showing the AAT dome and some mammatus clouds, plus the Warrumbungles skyline after the late afternoon hailstorm had passed

Warrumbungle Panorama evening 20070211

Later on in the evening there was some nice lightning over and beyond the Pilliga Forest where I often go mountain biking in the afternoons before observing asteroids in the evening.

Lightning 20070211

Despite some cloud I was able to get a clear view tonight and took this sum of 2 exposures totalling just over 500 seconds. The wide angle photo below shows the tail extends to the Small Magellanic Cloud, with the large cloud visible near the top.

Comet McNaught evening 20070209

In the brief period of dark sky before moonrise last night I was able to see about 15 degrees of tail with the naked eye when not fully dark adapted. In the wide angle photo below the tail extends towards the Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy.

Comet McNaught evening 20070205

Comet McNaught evening 20070205

As the just past Full Moon rose last night I was able to get these 2 images in a fairly dark sky.

Comet McNaught evening 20070204

Comet McNaught evening 20070204

This is why the comet has been so hard to see the past week!

Moon evening 20070130

Back home after a long observing run at SSO, so I can finally take some images through my 25cm Newtonian telescope, this one scaled to give an approximation of its appearance at the eyepiece, with an insert that has been processed to show the dark line down the centre of the tail- probably just the relatively hollow centre, not a shadow of the nucleus.

Comet McNaught evening 20070129

Comet McNaught has become a rather obvious easy naked eye object in the morning sky, with about 15 degrees of tail visible this morning (29th Jan). Here's 30mm and 85mm lens photos taken in very gusty wind conditions from the edge of the cliff. 60km/hr gusts just above the ground meant I had to physically hold the tracking mount to avoid it moving during the exposures.

Comet McNaught morning 20070129

Comet McNaught morning 20070129

The Moon continues to brighten and hide the tail in the evenings, making images from the 26th and 27th less spectacular, so I did some work with images that show the tail with an 85mm lens, taken on the 24th when the moon wasnt so bright.

Comet McNaught tail 20070124

Comet McNaught is now visible in the evening and morning twilight, although the twilight is much brighter in the morning, so it remains more easily visible in the evening. I could see the comet with 2 degrees of tail with the naked eye this morning. The comet is seen here with the Anglo-Australian Telescope dome and an inconveniently placed Grass Tree.

Comet McNaught morning of 20070126

Clear at SSO tonight, but I am observing and didnt have enough time to get everything properly set up. I experimented with a polarising filter to cut back the moonlit sky background. Yes it has a bit much jpg compression, I will sort that out when I have time.

Comet McNaught20070125

Tonight Rob and I had to drive about 200km SW to clear skies. We had a 5 day old moon in the sky which significantly reduced the amount of tail visible, although about 30 degrees of it was visible to the naked eye.

Comet McNaught20070124

Comet McNaught20070124

Comet McNaught20070124

Comet McNaught20070120

The comet during relatively bright twilight, 3 X 30 sec 85mm photos added together, with the probable neutral Sodium tail visible as the straight feature to the left of the dust tail.

Comet McNaught20070120

Comet McNaught 20070119

A straight tail is faintly visible to the left of the massive dust tail, this is probably a tail of neutral Sodium, as it is bright in red light, but not seen in blue light.

Comet McNaught 20070120

Rob + Comet McNaught 20070120
Rob McNaught taking images of Comet McNaught on 20th January, 2007 at Siding Spring Observatory

Comet McNaught20070119

30mm lens, 30 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 200

Woolomin Bushfire 19/01/2007
This bushfire is burning about 10km to the ESE.

Comet McNaught

300mm lens photo through smoke haze

Comet McNaught
25cm Newtonian photo just before coma went behind thick cirrus cloud

Comet McNaught

85mm photo showing synchrones in dust tail through smoke haze

This bushfire is burning about 10km to the ESE and the wind is blowing the smoke in my direction, although most of the smoke in the photos is from more distant bush fires.

Photos taken from Loomberah, Siding Spring Observatory (20th Jan), SW of Dubbo (24th Jan), NSW Australia with a Nikon D200 camera.

All Images Copyright © 2007 Gordon Garradd, and may not be reproduced on other websites without my permission

High resolution images for publication may be purchased from Science Photo Library

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