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Astronomy Picture of the Day
Search Results for "McNaught"




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Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 October 19 - Comet McNaught Over New Zealand
Explanation: Comet McNaught was perhaps the most photogenic comet of modern times -- from Earth. After making quite a show in the northern hemisphere in early January of 2007, the comet moved south and developed a long and unusual dust tail that dazzled southern hemisphere observers. In late January 2007, Comet McNaught was captured between Mount Remarkable and Cecil Peak in this spectacular image taken from Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand. The bright comet dominates the right part of the above image, while the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy dominates the left. Careful inspection of the image will reveal a meteor streak just to the left of the comet. Today, Comet Siding Spring may become the most photogenic comet of modern times -- from Mars.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 September 4 - Cloud, Clusters and Comet Siding Spring
Explanation: On October 19th, a good place to watch Comet Siding Spring will be from Mars. Then, this inbound visitor (C/2013 A1) to the inner solar system, discovered in January 2013 by Robert McNaught at Australia's Siding Spring Observatory, will pass within 132,000 kilometers of the Red Planet. That's a near miss, equivalent to just over 1/3 the Earth-Moon distance. Great views of the comet for denizens of planet Earth's southern hemisphere are possible now, though. This telescopic snapshot from August 29 captured the comet's whitish coma and arcing dust tail sweeping through southern skies. The fabulous field of view includes, the Small Magellanic Cloud and globular star clusters 47 Tucanae (right) and NGC 362 (upper left). Worried about all those spacecraft in Martian orbit? Streaking dust particles from the comet could pose a danger and controllers plan to position Mars orbiters on the opposite side of the planet during the comet's close flyby.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 November 17 - The Magnificent Tail of Comet McNaught
Explanation: Comet McNaught, the Great Comet of 2007, grew a spectacularly long and filamentary tail. The magnificent tail spread across the sky and was visible for several days to Southern Hemisphere observers just after sunset. The amazing tail showed its greatest extent on long-duration, wide-angle camera exposures. During some times, just the tail itself estimated to attain a peak brightness of magnitude -5 (minus five), was caught by the comet's discoverer in the above image just after sunset in January 2007 from Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Comet McNaught, the brightest comet in decades, then faded as it moved further into southern skies and away from the Sun and Earth. Within the next two weeks of 2013, rapidly brightening Comet ISON might sprout a tail that rivals even Comet McNaught.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 November 10 - Comet Between Fireworks and Lightning
Explanation: Sometimes the sky itself is the best show in town. In January 2007, people from Perth, Australia gathered on a local beach to watch a sky light up with delights near and far. Nearby, fireworks exploded as part of Australia Day celebrations. On the far right, lightning from a thunderstorm flashed in the distance. Near the image center, though, seen through clouds, was the most unusual sight of all: Comet McNaught. The photogenic comet was so bright that it even remained visible though the din of Earthly flashes. Comet McNaught has now returned to the outer Solar System and is now only visible with a large telescope. The above image is actually a three photograph panorama digitally processed to reduce red reflections from the exploding firework.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 October 20 - Three Galaxies and a Comet
Explanation: Diffuse starlight and dark nebulae along the southern Milky Way arc over the horizon and sprawl diagonally through this gorgeous nightscape. The breath-taking mosaic spans a wide 100 degrees, with the rugged terrain of the Patagonia, Argentina region in the foreground. Along with the insider's view of our own galaxy, the image features our outside perspective on two irregular satellite galaxies - the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. The scene also captures the broad tail and bright coma of Comet McNaught, the Great Comet of 2007. Currently, many sky enthusiasts are following the development of Comet ISON, a comet which might become the Great Comet of 2013.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 January 27 - Comet McNaught Over Chile
Explanation: Comet McNaught of 2007 has been, so far, the most photogenic comet of our time. After making quite a show in the northern hemisphere in early 2007 January, the comet moved south and developed a long and unusual dust tail that dazzled southern hemisphere observers. In this image, Comet McNaught was captured above Santiago, Chile. The bright comet dominates on the left while part of its magnificent tail spreads across the entire frame. From this vantage point in the Andes Mountains, one looks up toward Comet McNaught and a magnificent sky, across at a crescent moon, and down on clouds, atmospheric haze, and the city lights. The current year -- 2013 -- holds promise to be even better for comets than 2007. In early March, Comet PANSTARRS is on track to become visible to the unaided eye, while at the end of the year Comet ISON shows possibilities that include casting a tail that spreads across the sky, breaking up, and even becoming one of the brightest comets in recorded history.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 May 29 - Comet Between Fireworks and Lightning
Explanation: Sometimes the sky itself is the best show in town. In January 2007, people from Perth, Australia gathered on a local beach to watch a sky light up with delights near and far. Nearby, fireworks exploded as part of Australia Day celebrations. On the far right, lightning from a thunderstorm flashed in the distance. Near the image center, though, seen through clouds, was the most unusual sight of all: Comet McNaught. The photogenic comet was so bright that it even remained visible though the din of Earthly flashes. Comet McNaught has now returned to the outer Solar System and is now only visible with a large telescope. The above image is actually a three photograph panorama digitally processed to reduce red reflections from the exploding firework.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 June 17 - Comet McNaught Passes NGC 1245
Explanation: Of the many comets named for discoverer Robert McNaught, the one cataloged as C/2009 R1 is gracing dawn skies for northern hemisphere observers this month. Seen here on June 13th from southern New Mexico, this Comet McNaught's long ion tail sweeps across the telescopic field of view (a negative image is inset). Remarkably, the ion tail easily stretches past background star cluster NGC 1245 (upper left) in the constellation Perseus, about 1.5 degrees from the comet's lovely greenish head or coma. The coma also sports a short, stubby, dust tail. Of course, the comet and background stars move at different rates through planet Earth's skies. But a digital processing of many short exposures allowed frames of comet and stars to be separated, registered, and recombined in the final image. To see the comet separate from the background stars, just slide your cursor over the image. The recombined frames show off both the rich star field and faint details of the comet. Easy to spot in binoculars for now, McNaught will sink into the twilight along the eastern horizon in the coming days as it heads toward perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on July 2.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 June 7 - Comet McNaught Becoming Visible to the Unaided Eye
Explanation: A new comet is brightening and is now expected to become visible to the unaided eye later this month. C/2009 R1 (McNaught) is already showing an impressive tail and is currently visible through binoculars. The above image, taken yesterday from the Altamira Observatory in the Canary Islands and spanning about five degrees, shows an impressive green coma and a long ion tail in front of distant star trails. Although predicting the brightness of comets is notoriously difficult, current estimates place Comet McNaught as becoming visible to unaided northern hemisphere observers in late June, before sunrise, and in early July, after sunset. Discovered by Robert McNaught last year, the sun-orbiting iceberg will pass the Earth next week and will continue to melt and shed debris as it closes in on the Sun until early July. After reaching about half of the Earth-Sun distance from the Sun, the comet should fade rapidly as it then heads out of the inner Solar System.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 December 6 - The Magnificent Tail of Comet McNaught
Explanation: Comet McNaught, the Great Comet of 2007, was the brightest comet of the last 40 years. Its spectacular tail spread across the sky and was breathtaking to behold from dark locations for many Southern Hemisphere observers. The head of the comet remained quite bright and was easily visible to even city observers without any optical aide. Part of the spectacular tail was visible just above the horizon after sunset for many northern observers as well. Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught), which reached an estimated peak brightness of magnitude -6 (minus six), was caught by the comet's discoverer in the above image soon after sunset in 2007 January from Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. The robotic Ulysses spacecraft fortuitously flew through Comet McNaught's tail and found, unexpectedly, that the speed of the solar wind dropped significantly.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 July 5 - Comet Between Fireworks and Lightning
Explanation: Sometimes the sky itself is the best show in town. In January 2007, people from Perth, Australia gathered on a local beach to watch a sky light up with delights near and far. Nearby, fireworks exploded as part of Australia Day celebrations. On the far right, lightning from a thunderstorm flashed in the distance. Near the image center, though, seen through clouds, was the most unusual sight of all: Comet McNaught. The photogenic comet was so bright that it even remained visible though the din of Earthly flashes. Comet McNaught has now returned to the outer Solar System and is now only visible with a large telescope. The above image is actually a three photograph panorama digitally processed to reduce red reflections from the exploding firework.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 January 20 - Comet McNaught Over Chile
Explanation: Comet McNaught was perhaps the most photogenic comet of our time. After making quite a show in the northern hemisphere in early January, the comet moved south and developed a long and unusual dust tail that dazzled southern hemisphere observers. In this image, Comet McNaught was captured one year ago above Chile. The bright comet dominates on the left while part of its magnificent tail spreads across the entire picture. From this vantage point in the Andes Mountains, one looks up toward Comet McNaught and a magnificent sky, across at a crescent moon, and down on clouds, atmospheric haze, and the city lights of Santiago. Comet McNaught has glided into the outer Solar System and is now only visible as a speck in a large telescope. The other spectacular comet of 2007, Comet Holmes, has also faded from easy view.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 December 31 - A Year of Spectacular Comets
Explanation: Two spectacular comets graced Earth's skies during 2007. Both comets became bright enough to be seen by the unaided eye of the casual sky enthusiast. Early in 2007, Comet McNaught grew brighter than any comet in 40 years, displaying a beautiful dust tail that flowed across the sky. Comet McNaught (c/2006 P1) became known as the Great Comet of 2007, sported unusual striations in its expansive dust tail, and showed unexpectedly complex chemistry in its ion tail. Toward the year's end, normally docile and faint Comet Holmes brightened suddenly and unexpectedly to naked eye visibility. Remarkably, Comet 17P/Holmes stayed bright for weeks even though it lies beyond the orbit of Mars. No distant comet in recent history has remained so bright for so long. In this view, a white Comet Holmes was photographed in early December posing with the Heart and Soul Nebulas.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 May 4 - The Iron Tail of Comet McNaught
Explanation: Outstanding in planet Earth's sky early this year, Comet McNaught is captured in this view from the STEREO A spacecraft. McNaught's coma is so bright, it blooms into the long horizontal stripe at the bottom of the field. Brilliant Venus, near the top left corner, also produces a severe horizontal blemish in the digital image. But the sensitive camera does accurately record the striations in McNaught's famous dust tail along a region stretching over 30 million kilometers toward the top right of the field of view. A separate, fainter, arching tail just to the left of the dust tail was initially thought to be an example of a common ion tail, formed by electrically charged atoms carried away from the comet by the solar wind. However, detailed modeling indicates that tail is actually due to neutral iron atoms pushed out by the pressure of sunlight -- the first ever detected neutral iron tail from a comet. The iron atoms are thought to originate in dust grains from the comet nucleus that contain the iron-sulfur mineral troilite (FeS).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 March 30 - Three Galaxies and a Comet
Explanation: Diffuse starlight and dark nebulae along the southern Milky Way arc over the horizon and sprawl diagonally through this gorgeous nightscape. The breath-taking mosaic spans a wide 100 degrees, with the rugged terrain of the Patagonia, Argentina region in the foreground. Along with the insider's view of our own galaxy, the image features our outside perspective on two irregular satellite galaxies - the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. Recorded on January 28, the scene also captures the broad tail and bright coma of Comet McNaught, The Great Comet of 2007.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 February 26 - A Rocket Debris Cloud Drifts
Explanation: What's that cloud drifting in space? It's not an astronomical nebula -- those appear to stay put. Atmospheric clouds don't look like this. The answer to last week's sky mystery turned out to be orbiting and expanding debris from the upper stage of a failed Russian rocket that exploded unexpectedly. The cloud became visible to unaided southern hemisphere observers, and its cause was initially unknown. The above time lapse movie shows the cloud drifting as seen from Australia. Streaks in and near the cloud are likely large pieces of debris. The debris cloud is more than an astronomical curiosity -- particles from this cloud and others could become projectiles damaging existing satellites. As the cloud disperses, many particles will fall to Earth, but many more may help make low Earth orbit an increasingly hostile environment.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 February 12 - Comet McNaught Over New Zealand
Explanation: Comet McNaught is perhaps the most photogenic comet of our time. After making quite a show in the northern hemisphere in mid January, the comet moved south and developed a long and unusual dust tail that dazzled southern hemisphere observers starting in late January. Comet McNaught was imaged two weeks ago between Mount Remarkable and Cecil Peak in this spectacular image taken from Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand. The bright comet dominates the right part of the above image, while the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy dominates the left. Careful inspection of the image will reveal a meteor streak just to the left of the comet. Comet McNaught continues to move out from the Sun and dim, but should remain visible in southern skies with binoculars through the end of this month.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 February 5 - Comet Between Fireworks and Lightning
Explanation: Sometimes the sky itself is the best show in town. On January 26, people from Perth, Australia gathered on a local beach to watch a sky light up with delights near and far. Nearby, fireworks exploded as part of Australia Day celebrations. On the far right, lightning from a thunderstorm flashed in the distance. Near the image center, though, seen through clouds, was the most unusual sight of all: Comet McNaught. The photogenic comet was so bright that it even remained visible though the din of Earthly flashes. Comet McNaught continues to move out from the Sun and dim, but should remain visible in southern skies with binoculars through the end of this month. The above image is actually a three photograph panorama digitally processed to reduce red reflections from the exploding firework.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 February 1 - A Tail of Two Hemispheres
Explanation: By January 19/20 Comet McNaught's magnificent dust tail stretched for about 150 million kilometers (~1 AU), requiring images from both southern and northern hemispheres of planet Earth to take it all in. Two such views - from Cerro Paranal in Chile (left) and the Carnic Alps in Italy - are combined in this unique graphic that also outlines a perspective view of the comet's orbit (dotted line) and relative position of the Sun. Driven by solar radiation pressure the dust tail initially points away from the Sun, but also trails outside the comet's orbit. Astronomers try to account for the complex structure along the tail, including the pronounced striations, by considering forces acting on the dust (e.g. gravity, solar wind and radiation) as well as the release time and size of the dust grains. In the diagram, the modeled location of dust grains released at approximately the same time relative to perihelion passage, synchrones, are shown as dashed lines. The location of grains of similar size, syndynes, are shown as solid lines.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 27 - Castle and Sky
Explanation: While Comet McNaught ruled southern skies, last week's conjunction of the Moon and Venus could be enjoyed by denizens of both hemispheres of planet Earth. The two more commonly viewed celestial beacons produced this lovely twilight scene, recorded last Saturday in skies above Almodovar near Cordoba in southern Spain. Brilliant Venus and a slender crescent Moon seem to overlook the small town, along with a well-lit Castle Almodovar. The impressive castle's construction began in the 700s on the strategic site of a Roman fort. It was extensively restored in the 20th century.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 24 - A Comet Tail Horizon
Explanation: What's happening over the horizon? Many a sky enthusiast who thought they had seen it all had never seen anything like this. To the surprise of many Northern Hemisphere observers, the tail of Comet McNaught remained visible even after the comet's head set ahead of the Sun. What's more, visible were bright but extremely rare filamentary striae from the comet's expansive dust tail. The cause of dust tail striae are not known for sure, but are possibly related to fragmentation of comet's nucleus. The last comet to show prominent striae was Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Pictured above, the tail of Comet McNaught was caught just after sunset last Friday above the Carnic Alps of northern Italy.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 22 - The Magnificent Tail of Comet McNaught
Explanation: Comet McNaught, the Great Comet of 2007, has grown a long and filamentary tail. The spectacular tail spreads across the sky and is visible to Southern Hemisphere observers just after sunset. The head of the comet remains quite bright and easily visible to even city observers without any optical aide. The amazing tail is visible on long exposures and even to the unaided eye from a dark location. Reports even have the tail visible just above the horizon after sunset for many northern observers as well. Comet McNaught, estimated at magnitude -2 (minus two), was caught by the comet's discoverer in the above image just after sunset last Friday from Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Comet McNaught, the brightest comet in decades, is now fading as it moves further into southern skies and away from the Sun and Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 20 - SOHO: Comet McNaught Movie
Explanation: This frame from a spectacular time lapse movie shows Comet McNaught - the Great Comet of 2007 - sweeping through the inner solar system. The movie frames were recorded from January 12 through Jan 16 by a coronograph onboard the sun-staring SOHO spacecraft. Bright planet Mercury also glides dramatically through the field of view but the Sun itself remains fixed, hidden behind the coronograph's central occulting disk. The broad-tailed comet is so bright it almost overwhelms SOHO's sensitive camera designed to explore the fainter structures in the Sun's outer atmosphere. Comet McNaught's closest approach to the Sun (perihelion on January 12) was only 0.17 astronomical units, or about half the distance between the Sun and Mercury. (Note: To download the movie file, click on the picture.)

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 19 - McNaught's Matinee
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.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 18 - Southern Comet
Explanation: After a remarkable performance in the northern hemisphere, the brightest comet in decades is now showing off in the south. Recorded during evening twilight on January 17, this view features the bright coma and gorgeous, sweeping tail of Comet McNaught (c/2006 P1) over Lake Horowhenua in Levin, a small town on New Zealand's North Island. Astronomer Noel Munford reports that the five second long digital camera exposure comes close to capturing the visual appearance of the comet in a sky coloured by smoke from distant brush fires in Australia. Discovered last summer by R. H. McNaught (Siding Spring Survey), the comet grew impressively bright in early January and has even been sighted in full daylight. In the coming days Comet McNaught will continue to move south, for now a spectacle in southern skies as it heads for the outer solar system.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 17 - Comet McNaught from New STEREO Satellite
Explanation: The brightest comet of recent decades was a surprising first sight for a new camera in space. The Sun Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI) instrument onboard the Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) satellite had just opened up on January 11 when it snapped the above image of Comet McNaught. Visible was a spectacular view of the ion tail of Comet McNaught being swept away from the Sun by the solar wind in filamentary rays. The comet tail is seen to extend at least seven degrees across the above image, while the central coma is so bright it saturates. Comet McNaught is now reportedly so bright that it is visible even in broad daylight by blocking out the Sun with your hand. Comet McNaught has rounded the Sun and will slowly fade away for observers in Earth's Southern Hemisphere as it recedes from the Sun.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 15 - Comet McNaught Over Catalonia
Explanation: This past weekend Comet McNaught peaked at a brightness that surpassed even Venus. Fascinated sky enthusiasts in the Earth's northern hemisphere were treated to an instantly visible comet head and a faint elongated tail near sunrise and sunset. Recent brightness estimates had Comet McNaught brighter than magnitude -5 (minus five) over this past weekend, making it the brightest comet since Comet Ikeya-Seki in 1965, which was recorded at -7 (minus seven). The Great Comet of 2007 reached its brightest as it rounded the Sun well inside the orbit of Mercury. Over the next week Comet McNaught will begin to fade as it moves south and away from the Sun. The unexpectedly bright comet should remain visible to observers in the southern hemisphere with unaided eyes for the rest of January. The above image, vertically compressed, was taken at sunset last Friday from mountains above Catalonia, Spain.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 13 - Comet Over Krakow
Explanation: Bright Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) graced the twilight this week, seen by many and often described with superlatives. Watching the skies over Krakow, Poland, Andrzej Sawow recorded this view on Wednesday - with an ordinary handheld digital camera. He notes that "... astronomy is really for everyone who loves to look at the night sky. And fortunately (sometimes) the sky generously rewards its observer". Now very close to the Sun, Comet McNaught (along with Mercury) is visible in realtime images from the SOHO spacecraft. Otherwise, skywatchers will find the comet hard to see this weekend. But southern hemisphere observers could be rewarded next week as Comet McNaught begins to climb higher in southern skies.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 9 - McNaught Now Brightest Comet in Decades
Explanation: The brightest comet in decades is unexpectedly now visible. The most optimistic predictions have Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) shortly becoming one of the brightest comets of the past century. For the next few days, its short tail and bright coma can be spotted with the unaided eye close to the Sun and near the horizon in both evening and morning skies. This dramatic picture of the comet shining through cloudy skies was taken near sunset on January 7 from Bad Mergentheim, Germany.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 January 5 - Comet McNaught Heads for the Sun
Explanation: Early morning risers with a clear and unobstructed eastern horizon can enjoy the sight of Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) in dawn skies over the next few days. Discovered in August by R. H. McNaught (Siding Spring Survey) the comet has grown bright enough to see with the unaided eye but will soon be lost in the glare of the Sun. Still, by January 11 sun-staring spacecraft SOHO should be able to offer web-based views as the comet heads toward a perihelion passage inside the orbit of Mercury. This image captures the new naked-eye comet at about 2nd magnitude in twilight skies near sunset on January 3rd. After rounding the Sun and emerging from the solar glare later this month, Comet McNaught could be even brighter.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 March 14 - Comet McNaught-Hartley
Explanation: Outbound and climbing above the plane of our solar system, comet McNaught-Hartley (C/1999 T1) is presently soaring through northern skies. This telescopic picture, a composite of many 30 second exposures made through three color filters, recorded the delicate colors in its diminutive coma and faint tail on February 26th. Combining the exposures to produce the final image registered on the comet causes stars to appear as "dotted trails", evidence of the comet's motion relative to the distant stellar background. Discovered by southern hemisphere observers, this comet's closest approach to the Sun occurred in December last year as it passed just outside planet Earth's orbit. For now the brightest comet in the sky, this primordial chunk of solar system is crossing from the constellation Hercules to Draco and will continue to fade. Never visible to the unaided eye, McNaught-Hartley is still at about 10th magnitude and can be viewed by comet seekers using small telescopes.


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