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Space Science

Brightest Comet In Decades Now Visible 35

Posted by kdawson
from the dust-off-the-binoculars dept.
mlimber writes "Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1), the brightest comet in decades, is currently visible to the naked eye in the early evening and early morning sky for the northern hemisphere. The northern latitudes have the best view, but it can be seen even in the southern hemisphere during the day with the right equipment. Another image is available as NASA's astronomy picture of the day." Here is a graphic of the comet's evening location from 40 degrees north latitude.
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Brightest Comet In Decades Now Visible

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  • Wonderful.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eggplant62 (120514) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @02:34PM (#17525350)
    Unfortunately, no one's perfected that device where I can wipe the clouds out of the sky so I might be able to see this event from where I call home, in the Detroit area. It's been cloudy here for the last four or five days running, so much so that it precludes viewing the comet at all. Once it does clear, the light pollution pretty much drowns out any possibility of seeing anything other than the moon in the sky. Yuk, I hate living in a heavily-populated northern clime.
    • by Abcd1234 (188840)
      Yeah, same goes here in Edmonton, where we're due for a blizzard tonight. :( And here I had a perfect reason to break out the ol' 4.5" that goes woefully underutilized most days...
      • by Otter (3800) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @02:54PM (#17525602) Journal
        And here I had a perfect reason to break out the ol' 4.5" that goes woefully underutilized most days...

        I can't bring myself to do it...

        Anyway, the map is helpful if you can recognize Altair, but a bit less so for those of us who have to locate anything in the sky by the Big Dipper and Orion. I don't understand how if it's the "brightest comet in decades" I haven't noticed it, though. Hale-Bopp was pretty obvious. Is this one going to be getting much brighter than it is now?

        • by Abcd1234 (188840)
          I can't bring myself to do it...

          LOL, yeah... thanks... both of you. Bastards. ;)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Surt (22457)
          I can't bring myself to do it...

          Oh come on, it's not like 4.5" isn't a perfectly respectable width, I'll admit mine is only a little wider.
        • "I don't understand how if it's the "brightest comet in decades" I haven't noticed it, though. Hale-Bopp was pretty obvious. Is this one going to be getting much brighter than it is now?"

          2 reasons why: 1) up to about a week ago the comet wasn't particularly bright, and 2) it now appears fairly close to the sun so it is visible for only a short period of time in the morning and evening twilight.

          All predictions concerning comets are unreliable (anyone remember Comet Kohoutek?), but IF this comet retains its o
          • Comet Khoutek got me into astronomy - though I never saw the blasted thing either

            Hale-Bopp was a fantastic sight here in South West England though, worth the wait I think :-)
      • by incast (121639)
        "And here I had a perfect reason to break out the ol' 4.5" that goes woefully underutilized most days.."

        Wayyyy too easy.
      • by Nos. (179609)
        Yeah, that storm is coming here (Regina) tonight or tomorrow. I'm hoping to get a glimpse of it tonight, but the good news is, its brightness isn't going to peak for a few more days, so this weekend should provide a better opportunity, providing its not cloudy.
    • by zyl0x (987342)
      I'm going to drive out of the city into a more rural area. You could always hop on a bus to the edge of the city, or drive if you have a car. Maybe you'd have more luck there?
    • by bdonalds (989355)
      Do you work for the Detroit Tourism Board?
    • by SEWilco (27983)
      Unfortunately, no one's perfected that device where I can wipe the clouds out of the sky so I might be able to see this event from where I call home, in the Detroit area.
      Actually, the thermonuclear cloud evaporator does work quite well. It will clear the sky of clouds in a jiffy. You just have to make sure that the single cloud which it creates won't block your view of the comet.
      • by Lectrik (180902)

        Unfortunately, no one's perfected that device where I can wipe the clouds out of the sky so I might be able to see this event from where I call home, in the Detroit area.

        Actually, the thermonuclear cloud evaporator does work quite well. It will clear the sky of clouds in a jiffy. You just have to make sure that the single cloud which it creates won't block your view of the comet.

        well... It's not so much the clouds as the sun itself which is making it difficult for me to see the comet (working hours suc

  • Mmm (Score:2, Informative)

    MMmm another [slashdot.org] good date night! Its nice and crisp outside too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by badboy_tw2002 (524611)
      I'm not sure why you find astronomy and the fruit of a palm tree compatible, but I'll be sure to bring some when my D&D group/LUG/WoW clan go watch this comet.
  • Civil twilight (Score:3, Informative)

    by lpangelrob (714473) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @02:43PM (#17525466)
    Chicago is at 41 degrees north, and civil twilight lasts from 6:11 AM to 6:46 AM, and 5:08 PM to 5:43 PM CST, if I read it right.

    Since I can only see it in the morning, where will the comet be in the morning?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Mard (614649)
      Here you are, the morning skymap: http://spaceweather.com/images2007/08jan07/skymap_ north_m.gif [spaceweather.com]
      • by beckerist (985855)
        Was this just for this morning? I know it won't change an awful lot each day, but comparatively, relative to the other celestial objects it moves right along. What coordinates does this apply to too? It will (obviously) be visible at quite different times of the day dependent upon your longitude, and will appear at different elevations given different latitudes...
        • by Mard (614649)
          Um, I don't have those answers per se, but I can provide rampant speculation which should quell your concerns!

          It will be in more or less the same location TOMORROW morning and night (I doubt you'd notice a difference as a casual observer, although precise equipment of course would need new numbers and stuff to find it), but past tomorrow it should begin moving much faster as it's reaching the curvy-fast part of its orbit where it comes closest to the sun and slingshots back around. Then unfortunately, after
    • by beckerist (985855)
      No idea if this will help you (probably not in where to view the comet) but this was a solid few minutes of boredom-reliever!

      http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/db_shm?des=2006+P1 [nasa.gov]
    • My understanding is that you should be able to see it in the eastern sky preceding sunrise. Spaceweather.com [spaceweather.com] has some pretty good photographs of how it has appeared in the sky over Norway and other locations, and ephermides to help in locating it in the sky in your location.
    • You can also try to see the comet in the evening sky by using this guide:
      http://www.spaceweather.com/images2007/08jan07/sky map_north.gif [spaceweather.com]
    • by spun (1352)
      Hey, I'm not cutting off anyth... wait, are those NIKE tennis shoes? And I get a purple armband? All right! Where's the scissors?
  • by east coast (590680) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @03:10PM (#17525900)
    A better article [space.com] that gives some easy to access maps and a bit more technical information.

    BTW: Does anyone know if there are future prospects for this comet? Everything seems to point at January 15th being the end of it's visibility.
    • by Mard (614649)
      After it reaches its closest point to the sun and begins the return trip half of its orbit, it will still be viewable from Earth... but only from the southern hemisphere at night. So for us (the civilized northern hemisphere, I'm temporarily ignoring Australia because it's usually convenient to do so), January 15th is the end of visibility.
    • I suggest heavens-above.com [heavens-above.com] as another good possibility, because they allow for very careful localization (you can feed in your town location or your lat/long) and they'll provide a map showing the comet's position against the background stars over time for your location.

      They also provide such maps for the ISS, the HST, and most amazing of all, iridium flares. One of my fondest-ever memories was working night-shift at a big manufacturing place and getting all the geeks in the place out in the parking lot a
    • Someone in an above thread posted a link to a NASA animation [nasa.gov] of the orbit.

      If you give the Java Applet (before anybody complains, I'd like to see you do something like this via AJAX) a minute to load and fiddle around with the controls, you can rotate around and see the comet's path relative the earth, adjusting the date a day at a time.

      As you can see, between now and Jan 15th, the comet moves almost directly between the sun and the earth, and is completely lost in the glare. As the earth moves around
  • How long before we hear about another group of Keds wearing, custom web site creating freakazoids who drank the koolaide for a trip on this bad boy?
    • by Ingolfke (515826)
      The next heaven's gate will most likely include several /. members who believe in space elevators and life on other planets.

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