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Comet McNaught Visible in Broad Daylight 98

AbsoluteXyro writes "As the amateur astronomers among us already know, Comet McNaught has been gracing the early morning and late evening skies... as it approaches the Sun, some estimate it has the potential to become 40 times brighter than Venus, or a magnitude of -8.8! In fact, it has recently been reported at SpaceWeather.com that Comet McNaught is now visible in broad daylight! From the article: "It's fantastic," reports Wayne Winch of Bishop, California. "I put the sun behind a neighbor's house to block the glare and the comet popped right into view. You can even see the tail.""
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Comet McNaught Visible in Broad Daylight

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  • seriously, how long will it be in that general area of the sky at that time? DC's got rain and clouds for at least the next 2 days...
    • by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @12:17PM (#17603458) Journal
      http://skytonight.com/observing/highlights/5133461 .html [skytonight.com]

      "If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, January 12th is your last good opportunity to catch Comet McNaught in the evening twilight -- though January 13th isn't completely out of the question. After that, Comet McNaught will become a target for observers in the Southern Hemisphere, as shown below."

      Today is January 14th.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        In completely unrelated news, George W. Bush decided to hastily invade Urugay. When asked to give official statement, he replied "The star up there! I didn't see it! I want to see it too!!! THE STAR UP THERE!!!", slightly incoherently.

        Citizens of Urugay are united as they blame the occupation of their homeland by US forces on Slashdot for late post.

          -- Yet another anonymous coward. Bugger.
      • I think that is only if you want to see the comet at night. During the day, you can watch it from both hemispheres.
      • by Mard ( 614649 ) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @01:31PM (#17604208)
        The comet is visible in DAYLIGHT from any hemisphere, because the sun is visible FROM BOTH HALVES OF THE EARTH. C'mon, this is basic geometry. Go outside, block the sun with the shadow from a building, and look about 5 degrees (a fist's width at arm's length) to the east of the Sun (northern hemisphere, this is to your left when looking towards the sun). If the sun is clear, you should see it in a moment or two.
        • look about 5 degrees (a fist's width at arm's length) to the east of the Sun

          I always used a fist's width at arm's length to approximate 10 degrees. I'm not sure where I got it from, but it seems reasonably close to accurate when my thumb is on top. Unless by "width" you mean palm-side to back-side (which would make sense) in which case that's probably about right... forget I said anything.
      • if you've got a clear view of the horizon (ie, the horizon is a long way away from you) i'd still give it a shot tonight (sunday) even if you're a north-hemispherer. we saw it from San Francisco on saturday just fine. sun sets around 5.14, comet becomes visible around 5.25.
      • Actually they're surprised that the comet is so visible in daylight and visible when it's so close to the sun.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dik Zak ( 974638 )

      I think you won't see much more of it anymore, until it emerges from behind the sun.

      In the Southern Hemisphere it will be visible in the following week or so. It is raining right now here in the Kingdom of the Zulu, and the weather service expects the rain to persist for the whole of next week. We don't complain about rain here in Africa (except when there are floods of course) but this is inconvenient.

      I was seven years old in 1986, and I was really excited to see Halley's comet. The night that the come

      • We don't complain about rain here in Africa

        Yes, I bless the rains down in Africa
        Gonna take some time to do the things we never had...

    • You know, I wouldn't even mind it as much if it was snowing. But this goddamned RAIN! It's 50 degrees out, and drizzling rain for the last three days. WHAT HAPPENED TO WINTER?!?!?!

      I've kept on hearing about this comet for the last few days. I tried to look for it last week, but I always had a mess of clouds blocking the western horizon, exactly where I should be looking. Curse this weather!
  • Put the Sun (Score:5, Funny)

    by blantonl ( 784786 ) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @11:42AM (#17603158) Homepage
    "I put the sun behind a neighbor's house to block the glare and the comet popped right into view. You can even see the tail."

    He moved the sun. Impressive.
  • by jamie ( 78724 ) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Sunday January 14, 2007 @11:43AM (#17603166) Journal

    This may sound obvious, but DO NOT use binoculars during the day to look at objects near the sun. One slip and you get instant, permanent, crippling eye damage.

    The linked stories do talk about binoculars, but they were written for looking at the comet after sunset.

    • by skoaldipper ( 752281 ) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @11:46AM (#17603194)
      PL ea ese m od parre nt up 1! I f on ly i h ad re ad thiis e a rrleier ,
    • by Tx ( 96709 ) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @11:50AM (#17603224) Journal
      Warning on telescope - "Do not view the sun with remaining eye".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kitzilla ( 266382 )
      Amen. I believe this comet is now about 4 degrees from the sun -- too close for me to see it today. The sky that close is far too bright to safely use binoculars under most cloud conditions. Don't do it, no matter what yesterday's SpaceWeather article says.
    • by damoe ( 89193 )
      Having just come in from observing the comet with binoculars, I'd like to disagree with the above posters. It is very easy to safely use binoculars close to the sun. I, for example, was sitting on the ground with the sun blocked by a wall. The only way I could have seen the sun was to very purposefully tilt my torso to the left while turning my neck right. It took me about 3 minutes to find the comet unaided and during that time the sun never came into view, thus I was very confidant that I would do no
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Fred_A ( 10934 )
        Are you crazy ? All it would have taken is for someone to move the sun behind your side of the wall and you would have been instantly blinded !
    • I've seen the comet during the day both yesterday and today. You need binoculars to find it easily- although once you see it, it's obvious- or to see the tail. While I wouldn't let children see me trying this at home, positioning myself in the roof's shadow makes it safe enough to do.

      Sure, it is a bit weird pointing the binoculars in that general direction (weird like walking on the glass floor of the CN tower 1000 feet up- some major part of your brain is screaming at you that this ought not be done). But
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        I can even post to Slashdot right after. Although why Slashdot changed their color scheme to "big green blob in the middle of the page" I don't know.

        That's why we said not to look at it with binoculars today.... See what you get for not listening?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fifedrum ( 611338 )
      amen to that, my amateur astronomer brother, who built a shed-sized observatory in the backyard, decided to look at sun spots one day, and just as his eye approached the lens, he reared back in pain.

      He forgot the filter, and had a nice burn on the hollow of his cheek right below his eyeball, it was shaped like this: |

      very lucky to get away with just a nasty burn on thin skin
  • I was just leaving the house and I saw that there was a lunar eclipse. Then I turned the other direction and there was Hale-Bopp, a weird white smudge low on the horizon. That was so freaking cool. It stuck around for quite some time.
  • Got a picture! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Karellen !-P ( 717831 ) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @12:14PM (#17603428) Homepage
    I was able to take a pretty crappy shot [digitalapoptosis.com] of her yesterday at dusk. Unfortunately I didn't hear about that comet until it was too low on the horizon to get anything decent...or to get my hands on a decent zoom lense.
  • So someone if finally making sequel to "Night of the Comet" [amazon.com]. Awesome! :P
  • I'd like to take my kids out tonight, this sounds like a good excuse to drive north of the city.

    Will I still be able to see it, or will it be below the horizon? Any viewing tips?

    I live in south-eastern Ontario, Canada (near ll=44.5,-76.7).

    I used to have a computer program that told me about this stuff, and where to look... but, alas, it ran on my C-64 and probably doesn't know about this chunk of ice anyhow. :)
    • Unfortunately she will be setting at the same time as the sun but that doesn't mean that you should not try. If the western horizon is very clear, you'll have the potential for a killer view especially if the sun is all red and the comet reaches her expected magnitute of -4.4
    • I used to have a computer program that told me about this stuff, and where to look... but, alas, it ran on my C-64 and probably doesn't know about this chunk of ice anyhow. :)

      Laugh it up, but there was a program for MS-DOS and Win 3.1 called EZCosmos that was one of the better ephemeris packages available. Alas, they seem to have gone belly up. Here's an Ask Slashdot for you: What do you use for ephemeris software these days? Are there any good Open Source packages or websites?

      • by svnt ( 697929 )
        Google is the new AskSlashdot. Nasa has a web site that will show you graphically as well as give you more detailed ephemeral data:
        http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/horizons.cgi [nasa.gov]

        Harvard also has raw data.
        http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/Ephemerides/Comets/ 2006P1_1.html [harvard.edu]
      • by M1FCJ ( 586251 )
        Kstarts from the KDEEdu package. It's pretty neat. I used to use xephem ages ages ago, even had it compiled for AIX when I was in the university (circa 1993) - it must be still around. Before that, I had something to run on the IBM mainframe but the name escapes my mind.

        There is also Stellarium which is a very nice looking thing (it's running on the laptop right now and I can see a beautiul Sirius rising and Orion nicely in the sky and if I had bothered to turn the light off, that'd be the view I'd see from

    • by Fred_A ( 10934 )
      I'd like to take my kids out tonight, this sounds like a good excuse to drive north of the city.

      Will I still be able to see it, or will it be below the horizon? Any viewing tips?
      Apparently, according to the article you're supposed to drive south instead.

      You may have to refuel a couple times.
      And bring food.
  • I predict all these post will come to nought.
  • Just thinking, are there any Nike wearing weirdos out there looking to hitch a ride this time around?

    • by VENONA ( 902751 )
      On the theory that anything that cleans up the gene pool is, by definition, A Good Thing, we can only hope. Plus, if there's another Heaven's Gate event, we get to see puff pieces in most media, as all the sensitive types act as if nutjobs leaving the planet (suicide still gets them off the planet) were somehow A Bad Thing. We should get at least a Geraldo Rivera special out of it.

      "So sad."
      "A tragedy."
      and the immortal
      "Think of the children."

      Yeah, some relatives, SOs, and such would suffer. Sorry about that.
  • Any photos? (Score:3, Funny)

    by slughead ( 592713 ) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @12:36PM (#17603622) Homepage Journal
    I don't want to go outside.
  • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Sunday January 14, 2007 @12:52PM (#17603788)
    Every few years, it seems, we've had another comet that was supposed to be "best comet of the century!!!", and all my life, they've been fizzling. A couple have been OK, but there's been a dearth of really bright, visible comets since before I was born.

    This sucker, I wish someone would have hyped the hell out of. IT IS THAT BRIGHT. The problem is, hardly anyone (including Slashdot) was reporting on it until it was damn near gone. There were about 2-4 nights where it was incredibly bright, brighter than Venus, and visible just at sunset for about half an hour or so. VERY close to the horizon but for the first time in my life, light pollution meant nothing. I was able to see this thing while driving around, so long as I had a clear view of the horizon to the west. Most comets you have to hunt for, use binoculars, maps, you name it. This thing had a very long tail, just sitting there in plain view.

    It's been the best comet of the past 3 decades at least. Unfortunately the vast majority of the planet missed out, as these reports have all come after the fact. Plus, it's now barely visible for those in the northern hemisphere.

    I'm gonna try this daytime trick out, because if it's like the sunset viewing conditions, it will be 10x as cool as is described here.
    • Every few years, it seems, we've had another comet that was supposed to be "best comet of the century!!!", and all my life, they've been fizzling. A couple have been OK, but there's been a dearth of really bright, visible comets since before I was born.

      Well.. both Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp were really, really impressive. So either you're really young or you indeed have a lot of light pollution around. I am lucky to live in an area where I can get completely away from civilization's lights and those two co

      • I saw them more than a hundred kilometres from any city lights. They were OK compared to Halley in 1985, but that's about it. By saying they were "really, really impressive", we're just showing how young we BOTH are. They were impressive compared to the complete and utter lack of truly impressive comets that have come around before we were born. There hasn't been a daylight comet in decades until this one.

        Seriously, I live in a city of a million people, and was able to see it when the sky was still red from
      • by M1FCJ ( 586251 )
        I've seen and photographed both - ths one beats them hands down - never in my life I actually saw a comet just after the sun set and so clearly and as bright as Venus. If this comet was visible during night time instead of daytime (how cool can that be darnit!) it'd be easily one of the most famous comets of all time. This sucker IS BRIGHT, really really bright!

        Mitra curse me, I so hate to be in UK and its lousy weather - I'd give anything to be in Australia deserts in a couple of day's time. They will have

    • I did my best to get the word out about this one. I'm glad I was able to get it up on Slashdot, at least, though it is too late for night viewing here in the northern hemisphere. I did see it a couple nights ago at sunset through binoculars.... It is a spectacular comet. I wish my home weren't covered in unyieldingly cloudy skies, I'd love to have a peak at this daytime comet. This is the first daytime comet since 1965, it would be a shame to miss it.
    • by ngc1976 ( 137363 )

      It's been the best comet of the past 3 decades at least. Unfortunately the vast majority of the planet missed out, as these reports have all come after the fact. Plus, it's now barely visible for those in the northern hemisphere.

      Perhaps because nobody looks up anymore. Or down for that matter. I'm amazed how many people miss things as simple as a lunar eclipse, strong meteor shower or aurora WHILE outside at night. I found it unbelievably hard to miss this comet because it was staring you right in the fa

      • It's been cloudy as hell here lately... and unfortunately the view of this comet has been easily obliterated by clouds on the horizon. I'd imagine that's why most people haven't seen it... the vast majority of people probably just didn't even know it was out, and never saw it by chance. Comets are unfortunately difficult to forecast. Same with auroras... and I find it is typically cloudy as fuck whenever something interesting happens in the sky, anyways.
        • For once it's right to blame the media, too! There was NO mention of this in either of the major Twin Cities papers. Shit. And I work 'til 10 pm, so have consistently missed it. Maybe I can see the daytime version tomorrow...
    • In the war between fancy new products and astronomy, the fancy new products always win. Only 7 days after the prime observing time, thousands of iPhone headlines, 24 hour Steve Jobless coverage, and Pirates of Silicon Valley marathons, did a small blurb appear about the brightest comet in 10 years having come and gone.

      Amazing how with the most advanced communication technology and the ability for everyone to know everything, we are still victims of the most basic human desire to idolize the few strong lead
    • Its probably because 90% of the people who post/track articles are on holidays and only basic staff are on hand.

      http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Comet_McNaught_M akes_For_Stellar_A_First_Light_Present_For_STEREO_ Telescope_999.html [spacedaily.com]

      Jan 15!!!

      We still have time to see it though, but yeah, could have been earlier, curse you space websites/magazines.
    • by Raenex ( 947668 )

      For a couple of days I saw some people who had stopped at the side of the road to view it during my commute. Sadly I didn't stop to see what they were looking at, and by the time I found out it was a day too late. At least the people in the Southern Hemisphere have advance warning.

      But then again, it's just a light in the sky. I'll get over it :)

  • I know who to blame for things like this: George Bush.

    First he caused that hurricane, now this comet. Bill Clinton never caused any major natural disasters or evil omens.
  • I can confirm this: I just saw the comet at 10:30 a.m. local time Sunday morning! Incredible. In all my years as an astronomer I have never seen anything like this. Using my binoculars I could easily spot it 5 degrees from the Sun. I'm trying to get video now, but it's so close it will be difficult. I made a videoblog about this [badastronomy.com] the other day. I'll have to update it now!
  • we've had a week straight of cloud cover. Lights in the sky would only make the local bible-thumpers nervous anyway (Kansas).
  • Tried looking for it today in the Orange County, CA area. Despite the air being unusually clear (as it has been for the last few weeks), I just could not spot the comet. Chalk it up to being close to sea level and in the suburbs, I guess.

    Oh, well, I was at least able to see it at sunset [hyperborea.org] the last two nights.
  • i tried - I placed a post in front of the sun, peeked out to the left, used two pairs of sunglasses at the same time, and still couldn't see it. I call hoax. It's incredibly clear here, too - dry and clear.
  • the sky would clear up so i could see it now.
  • I took a few photos from my house in Oakland -

    http://meems.imeem.com/iQrVatKB/photo/blSLxv2H/1lA W_FAX99Dry/ [imeem.com]

    I'd managed to grab a few shots at sunset, but I wanted a shot with both the sun and the comet in frame - so I held my sun filter out as far away from the camera as I could manage, it dimmed the solar disc but left it visible, a wee bit of adjustment to the luminance curves was needed to bring out the comet at the top left of the shot. Sorry it's kind of small, I just used the stock 55mm lens on my ca
  • Originally they said it would be very faint. It wasn't until 7 days after the prime observing time that the news managed to cut through the iPhone noise, but by then it was too late.

    It was invisible to the naked eye on Saturday. Only after greatly amplifying the frames in software did the comet emerge. It probably won't be visible after Sunday.

    Threw some photos of the comet on http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/member.php?u=115141 [rcgroups.com]

    and made a movie of it right until it was 50 pixels above the horizon. The mo
  • How about you editors grow up a little?
  • Oh, right, it's just an incredible coincidence that this comet gets bright the very same week that the iPhone is introduced.

    Jealous losers like Cisco and God just want to try and be cool like Apple.

    Nobody ever even heard of this comet before just a few months ago. Maybe if they'd actually innovated and made a better comet then people would have heard of it before it's totally obsolete.

    Just ask anyone which they've heard of: "the iPhone" or "McNaught's Comet." Hah, I'll bet you probably have a tou
  • Not to put down this comet, but I've often considered myself privileged to have lived through the Hale Bop comet, which was undoubtedly one of the most spectacular astronomical events in recorded history. I wasn't even quite in high school at the time, but I remember vividly that the comet was very much visible to the naked eye for many weeks and that it could not even be viewed in it's entirety with most telescopes (it would take up all of the frame of view and then some). Way better than Halie's come
  • "It's fantastic," reports Wayne Winch of Bishop, California. "I put the sun behind a neighbor's house to block the glare and the comet popped right into view. You can even see the tail."

    Now there is a strong man with aspestos hands!
  • http://msowww.anu.edu.au/~rmn/C2006P1.htm [anu.edu.au]

    This site has a lot of info and viewing directions.

    Basically...

    By Jan 16, the effect of forward scattering will have dropped back to about zero and the comet will already be heading away from the Sun and Earth; back to the obscurity of the Oort cloud. Although now clearly fading, it will be moving higher into the southern sky away from the sun. At sunset on the 16th, the comet will be about 10 degrees from the sun and just left of directly above the Sun at sunset. It
  • Gee thanks for posting the information a week late

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