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Comet McNaught plunges toward the Sun


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#1    frogfish

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 12:25 AM

Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) is plunging toward the Sun. It won't hit, but at closest approach on Jan. 13th it will be only 0.17 AU away--much closer than Mercury (0.38 AU). When the hot comet emerges later this month it could be brighter than a 1st-magnitude star. Or not. No one knows what will happen.

At sunrise this morning in Vallentuna, Sweden, P-M Heden was able to photograph the comet through a break in the clouds:
linked-image

Details: Canon Digital Rebel XT, f/5.6, iso 100, 2s exp

"I had a beautiful view," he says. "I saw the comet with my naked eyes just before the sun made the sky too bright."

"The tail was a beautiful sight in binoculars," adds Haakon Dahle of Fjellhamar, Norway, who took this picture, a 1 second exposure at 800 ASA. "I also saw the comet with the naked eye," he confirms.

Soon, the comet will be too close to the Sun to see--unless you're SOHO. From Jan. 11th to 15th, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory will monitor the comet-Sun encounter using its onboard coronagraph. A date of note is Jan. 14th when Comet McNaught passes less than a degree from the planet Mercury. Join SOHO for a ringside seat.


http://www.spaceweather.com
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It's been raining here...Hopefully i'll be able to catch it before it dissappears, or after it reappeares later this month...

Edited by frogfish, 06 January 2007 - 12:26 AM.

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#2    .........................

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 07:55 PM

For some reason i always assumed comets contained a lot of ice, so i would have also assumed that ice to melt when passing very close to the sun...

Perhaps the comet will be smaller when it re-appears? original.gif


#3    frogfish

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 11:39 PM

Comet are essentially a dirty snowball. But they are so massive that changes in size would be very small...almost not apparent to scientists. Comets do lose A LOT of material because of the sun. Tons ans tons of debris.

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#4    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 04:00 AM

A Bright Comet Is Coming

Comet McNaught from Hammerfest, Norway Jan. 6, 2007. If you watch the morning or evening sky these days and have a clear view of the horizon, you will be able to spot a bright object with a prominent tail.

linked-image
Image above: Comet McNaught from Hammerfest, Norway
Jan. 6, 2007.
Credit: Roger Johansen.


Instructions for viewing the comet in the morning from Spaceweather.com:

   1. At dawn, go outside and face east
   2. Using binoculars, scan the horizon
   3. The comet is located just south of due east


Instructions for viewing the comet in the evening from Spaceweather.com:

   1. At sunset, go outside and face west
   2. Using binoculars, scan the horizon
   3. The comet is located low and to the right of Venus
   4. A clear view of the horizon is essential

linked-image
Click image to enlarge.


That object is comet C/2006 P1 (Comet McNaught). It was discovered on August 7th, 2006 by the hugely successful comet discoverer Rob McNaught. At time of discovery, the comet was a very faint object, but the predicted perihelion distance (closest distance to the sun) of just 0.17 astronomical units (the average distance between the Earth and sun, about 150 million kilometers) indicated that the object has the potential to become very bright indeed. Nobody really knows just what this comet will look like at its closest point to the sun and that is where SOHO comes in! The LASCO instrument aboard SOHO has the ability to watch comets as they get extremely close to the sun. Fortunately for us, C/2006 P1 is going to pass right through the LASCO C3 field of view in less than a weeks' time! As soon as SOHO's cameras capture the comet, we will post images and further information to the SOHO website. In the meantime, you may enjoy looking at some photographs and checking out the links below for further information.

linked-image
Image above: The image shows the expected track of
the comet through SOHO's coronagraph LASCO C3.
Credit: NASA/ESA


The image above shows the expected track of the comet through SOHO's coronagraph LASCO C3. The comet will appear in the field of view of C3 at around 10:00 UT (05:00 EDT) on January 12th (a few hours before perihelion) in the upper-left of the images and travel almost vertically down, exiting C3's field of view in the lower left at roughly 03:00 UT on January 16th.

Recent estimates of the comet's maximal brightness have ranged widely from magnitude +2.1 (about as bright as Polaris, the North Star) to a super-bright -8.8 (about 40 times brighter than Venus)! The lower the magnitude number, the brighter the object. The brightest stars in the sky are categorized as zero or first magnitude. Negative magnitudes are reserved for the most brilliant objects: the brightest star is Sirius (-1.4); the full Moon is -12.7; the Sun is -26.7.

Current estimates put comet McNaught at magnitude 0 to -1, and it is still brightening. It could be -2 or -3 by the time it reaches LASCO's field of view. This means it will be brighter than comet NEAT or comet 96P/Machholz. In other words, this could be the brightest and most spectacular comet that SOHO has ever seen!

Related Links:

+ McNaught gallery on Spaceweather.com

Steele Hill
Goddard Space Flight Center

Bernard Fleck
ESA


Source: NASA - Exploring the Universe - Our Solar System

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#5    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 06:22 PM

SOHO prepares for comet McNaught

linked-image
The image shows the expected track of comet McNaught through SOHO's coronagraph LASCO C3. The comet will appear in the field of view of C3 at around 11:00 CET (10:00 UT) on 12 January 2007 (a few hours before perihelion) in the upper-left of the images and travel almost vertically down, exiting C3's field of view in the lower left at roughly 03:00UT on January 16th.

Recent estimates of the comet's maximal brightness have ranged widely from magnitude +2.1 (about as bright as Polaris, the North Star) to a super-bright -8.8 (about 40 times brighter than Venus)! The lower the magnitude number, the brighter the object. The brightest stars in the sky are categorized as zero or first magnitude. Negative magnitudes are reserved for the most brilliant objects: the brightest star is Sirius (-1.4); the full Moon is -12.7; the Sun is -26.7.

Current estimates put comet McNaught at magnitude 0 to -1, and it is still brightening. It could be -2 or -3 by the time it reaches LASCO's field of view. This means it will be brighter than comet NEAT or comet 96P/Machholz. In other words, this could be the brightest and most spectacular comet that SOHO has ever seen!

Credits: ESA, NASA SOHO/LASCO team


11 January 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. For four days in January, the comet will pass through SOHO's line of sight and could be the brightest comet SOHO has ever seen.

As Comet McNaught heads towards its closest approach to the Sun on 12 January 2007, it will disappear from view for earthbound observers, becoming lost in the Sun's glare. That's where SOHO comes in. Poised in space between the Earth and Sun, SOHO ceaselessly watches the Sun and objects that pass nearby.

Comet McNaught will pass within a fifth of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. As the comet approaches the Sun, the amount of dust and gas it releases will increase dramatically, causing the comet to become extremely bright. "This might become the brightest comet SOHO has ever seen," says Bernhard Fleck, SOHO Project Scientist.


The material ejected from the comet forms the tails. There are two tails, the dust tail and the gas Ė or ion Ė tail. The dust tail is the brighter and is formed by the intense sunlight forcing dust particles away from the comet. The solar wind, a constant stream of material flowing from the Sun, drags ionized gas from the comet to create the ion-tail.

linked-image
Comet McNaught is plunging toward the Sun and brightening dramatically. The image was taken by Roger Johansen, Hammerfest, Norway, on 6 January 2007.

Credits: Roger Johansen


Researchers Karl Battams and Jeff Morrill at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC are planning colour filter observations of these two comet tails. "Close to the Sun the ion and dust tails move apart, a phenomenon that is often difficult to observe from the Earth. By measuring the ion-tail angle we can get information about the solar wind speed very close to the Sun," says Morrill.

Comet McNaught is moving through space on an inclined orbit. This will carry it above the Sunís north pole and across the Sunís equator, a place where there is a reversal of the magnetic properties of the solar wind. Crossing this boundary could cause the cometís ion-tail to fragment. Observations of such events are generally very rare, so SOHO's images of comet McNaught constitute an exciting opportunity for scientists.

After SOHO's work is finished, the comet will emerge from the Sunís glare and become visible again to earthbound sky watchers in the Southern Hemisphere. "It could become a really bright object in the twilight sky," says Fleck. The ghostly veils of a bright comet are amongst the most spectacular of sights that can be seen in the night sky.

Between 12 and 15 January, Comet McNaught will not be visible from Earth but everyone can still track the comet's passage near the Sun by looking at the SOHO images at http://soho.esac.esa.int/hotshots/
.

Source: ESA - News

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#6    Abecrombie

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 07:42 PM

Why doesnt this suprise me and why do us humans alawys in general take it for granted nothing will happen? Do we realy know ? what if ? it could happen? what could happen ? me talking to myself .?
It s happened before.
Oh.... see anything can change in an instant and always catch us off guard,lol

Lets hope this is just another bad Mc Donaldland story,.. Naught. wheww, im outta here.

Actually great find my as always, thanks frogfish and waspie, always good stuff
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#7    Ciraxis

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 07:59 PM

I've been trying to get a shot of this thing!  its been so overcast here!  if i get one, i'll post it!


#8    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 08:03 PM

Quote

Why doesnt this suprise me and why do us humans alawys in general take it for granted nothing will happen?

Why doesn't what surprise you and because we understand the Laws Of Planetary Motion maybe? (In that order).

Quote

Do we realy know ?

We have a good idea.

Quote

what if ?

What if what?

Quote

it could happen?

What could happen?

Quote

what could happen ?

That's exactly what I said.

QUOTE(Abecrombie @ Jan 11 2007, 07:42 PM) View Post
me talking to myself .?

Well that could be a bit of a problem I admit.

QUOTE(Abecrombie @ Jan 11 2007, 07:42 PM) View Post
It s happened before.

Talking to yourself?

QUOTE(Abecrombie @ Jan 11 2007, 07:42 PM) View Post
Oh.... see anything can change in an instant and always catch us off guard,lol


Not really. 'cos we understand the Laws Of Planetary Motion.

QUOTE(Abecrombie @ Jan 11 2007, 07:42 PM) View Post
Lets hope this is just another bad Mc Donaldland story,.. Naught. wheww, im outta here.

You've lost me here. Something to do with a Big Mac and fries maybe?

QUOTE(Abecrombie @ Jan 11 2007, 07:42 PM) View Post
Actually great find my as always, thanks frogfish and waspie, always good stuff
Abecrombie thumbsup.gif

It is, as always, a pleasure.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#9    frogfish

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Posted 11 January 2007 - 08:31 PM

Lol Waspie tongue.gif

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#10    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 01:06 AM

Comet McNaught - A First Light Present for STEREO
01.12.07


linked-image
Click image to enlarge

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 vertical band in the image. The comet's dynamic tails extend up and to the left.

The lowest of the tails is the ion tail, which points along the direction of the solar wind. Above that is the comet's dust tail pushed out by radiation pressure from the sun. The tail is highly structured, probably the result of dynamic activity in the comet itself.

Although the two STEREO observatories have been turning on their instruments since mid-December, the Heliospheric Imagers on this spacecraft turned on for the first time on Jan. 11 - just in time to see the spectacular Comet McNaught.

The Heliospheric Imagers are designed to observe the space between the Sun and the Earth in order to watch solar storms as they head our way. But here the Heliospheric Imagers are also able to observe Comet McNaught as it heads towards the sun.

STEREO's SECCHI/HI instrument was built by a consortium led by the Naval Research Laboratory (USA), and includes the University of Birmingham (UK), Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (UK) and Centre Spatiale de Liege (Belgium). Image credit: NASA

Related Links:

+ STEREO
+ First Light web feature
+ Comet McNaught


Rani Gran
Goddard Space Flight Center


Source: NASA - STEREO - News

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#11    frogfish

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 08:36 PM

here are some more spectacular images from Spaceweather. They were taken in the Southern hemisphere.

linked-image
linked-image

http://www.spaceweather.com/

---
Stupid MI weather...







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#12    frogfish

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Posted 19 January 2007 - 08:37 PM

Here's the McNaught Photo Gallery!
http://www.spaceweather.com/comets/gallery...ught_page12.htm

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#13    Al Bundy

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 06:57 PM

Astonishing pictures!


#14    frogfish

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 09:20 PM

It's th brightest comet since 1960!

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#15    indeed

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Posted 22 January 2007 - 10:07 AM

Been watching this every night for the last few days, sadly just went behind cloud tonight  sad.gif





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