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Saturday, January 20, 2007


McNaught, the comet with the Amazing tail

This superb image of comet P1 McNaught comes from Darren Larcombe of Carnarvon Station Reserve. The photo was taken about 19.40 on 18 January, using a Cannon digital SLR, about 200mm lens and 2 second exposure.

As I stare at the solid wall of cloud that has blocked the comet these past two days, and promises to block it out tonight, I can console myself with some truly fantastic images taken by others. I've already posted the links to Rob McNaught's images, but they are worth posting again. Peter Adderly of Sydney has some terrific images of the extended tail.

The tail is a bit over two handspans long in the sky at the moment (about half the distance between Venus and the comet itself), this is astounding. It is so long that people in the Northern Hemisphere can see the tail poking up above the horizon after sunset. Here's another image of the comet from Chile showing the astounding extent of the tail. Another image from WA by Kirsten Harris from back on the 17th is nice too, and gives an idea how much the tail has evolved over the past two days. As allways, there are heaps of images from around the southern hemisphere at Spaceweather Gallery. Also don't forget the Ice in Space photogallery, with a huge range of Australian images.

Weather forecast, well it looks like Central Australia and North QLD will be covered in cloud until late Sunday (sigh). At least the rain has helped a bit with the bushfires, but they are not in the clear yet. Again, you might consider donating to help those affected by the bushfires.

Nonetheless, if you have ANY chance of even a small break in the clouds, go and have a look. This is the most spectacular comet for 30 years, and well worth it. Tonight and Sunday the crescent Moon will make the scene more beautiful still.


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