Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2007 January 19
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

McNaught's Matinee
Credit & Copyright: Stefan Seip - Inset: David Levy

Explanation: Comets grow bright when they're close to the Sun, basking in the intense solar radiation. Of course, they're also usually impossible to see against the overwhelming scattered sunlight. But surprising Comet McNaught - whose January 12 closest approach to the Sun (perihelion passage) was well inside the orbit of Mercury - gave an enjoyable performance in bright blue daytime skies. In fact, comet expert David Levy captured this remarkable inset (upper left) telescopic view of McNaught within an hour of perihelion, with the comet in broad daylight only about 7 degrees away from the Sun's position. Stefan Seip's wider daytime view of the comet and fluffy clouds was recorded approximately a day later. Seip used a polarizing filter and a telescope/camera set up near Stuttgart, Germany. No longer visible in broad daylight, Comet McNaught is now touring twilight southern skies.

Tomorrow's picture: SOHO Movie

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.