Comet Visible During Brief Visit

Jun 21, 2010
Comet McNaught C/2009 R1, one of 56 comets discovered by Robert McNaught. (Credit: Michael Jaeger, Australia)

(PhysOrg.com) -- Comet McNaught is quickly approaching the sun this week, but it is visible with binoculars or telescopes in the early hours before dawn. The best views are away from city lights, according to UA senior research scientist Carl Hergenrother at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

It won't be around for very long, but with a pair of binoculars you can catch Comet McNaught as it nears the sun during the next few days.

The best place to see it is well away from city lights, and the more powerful the (or telescope) the better the view, according to University of Arizona senior research scientist Carl Hergenrother at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

The comet, he said, is now in northern Auriga, just a few degrees to the northeast of the 0th magnitude star Capella. It is visible very low in the northeast sky about a half hour before the start of dawn.

Hergenrother, whose work centers on comets, asteroids, has been keeping tabs on McNaught, officially C/2009 R1, and writes about this and other phenomena in his blog.

Comet McNaught is one of several comets named for its discoverer, Robert McNaught.

Like other comets, McNaught is essentially a ball of ice and dust, remnants of the earliest days of the formation of our solar system. As they approach the sun, comets develop signature "tails" as solar winds cause them to shed their dusty outer layers.

McNaught will appear lower and lower in the morning sky in the as it heads to perihelion, its closest approach to the sun, on July 2. Hergenrother said the may be visible low in the evening sky later on, but will be very close to the horizon and not very visible for most people.

And the window for morning viewing, he added, is closing rapidly. Still to come, though, is Hartley 2, which will be bright enough to see with the naked eye come this fall.

Explore further: Venus Express spacecraft, low on fuel, does delicate dance above doom below

Related Stories

Soho prepares for comet McNaught

Jan 12, 2007

Recently, sky watchers in the Northern Hemisphere have been enjoying the sight of Comet McNaught in the twilight sky. Now, solar physicists using the ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft are getting ready for their view. ...

The great cometary show

Jan 19, 2007

Comet McNaught, the Great Comet of 2007, is no more visible for observers in the Northern Hemisphere. It does put an impressive show in the South, however, and observers in Chile, in particular at the Paranal ...

Comet McNaught - A First Light Present for STEREO

Jan 19, 2007

This image of Comet McNaught comes from the Heliospheric Imager on one of the STEREO spacecraft, taken Jan. 11, 2007. To the right is the comet nucleus, so bright it saturates the detector creating a bright ...

The Shocking Size of Comet McNaught

Apr 13, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- British scientists have identified a new candidate for the biggest comet measured to date. Dr Geraint Jones of UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory presented the results at the RAS National ...

Spitzer Telescope Sees Trail of Comet Crumbs

May 11, 2006

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has snapped a picture of the bits and pieces making up Comet 73P/Schwassman-Wachmann 3, which is continuing to break apart on its periodic journey around the sun. The new infrared ...

Recommended for you

Orion on track at T MINUS 1 Week to first blastoff

10 hours ago

At T MINUS 1 Week on this Thanksgiving Holiday, all launch processing events remain on track for the first blast off of NASA's new Orion crew vehicle on Dec. 4, 2014 which marks the first step on the long ...

Bad weather delays Japan asteroid probe lift off

16 hours ago

Bad weather will delay the launch of a Japanese space probe on a six-year mission to mine a distant asteroid, just weeks after a European spacecraft's historic landing on a comet captivated the world.

Manchester scientists boost NASA's missions to Mars

Nov 27, 2014

Computer Scientists from The University of Manchester have boosted NASA space missions by pioneering a global project to develop programs that efficiently test and control NASA spacecraft.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.