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Post Info TOPIC: Comet 2006 P1 ( McNaught )


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RE: Comet 2006 P1 ( McNaught )
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Australian astronomer Rob McNaught was looking for something much darker and deadlier when he found the dazzling comet that now bears his name.

"I was looking for NEOs or near earth objects, asteroids and defunct comets that have orbits that cross ours and could therefore one day collide with our planet and cause massive destruction."

Or "killer asteroids", such as the one that hit the Gulf of Mexico 65 million years ago and wiped out much of life on Earth - including, many scientists say, the dinosaurs. Even the small cometary fragment that exploded over Siberia, in the Tunguska Event of June 30, 1908, produced as much force as a 20-megaton hydrogen bomb.

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(Ed - Rob McNaught comes from Prestwick, Scotland)

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A comet discovered by a Scottish astronomer has transformed southern hemisphere skies this week.
Thousands of people have gathered in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and South Africa to watch Comet McNaught, the brightest comet seen from Earth in more than 40 years.
It is one of very few comets that can be seen by the naked eye in daylight and is around 140 million km from the Earth.
The comet consists of a head bigger than Mount Everest and a tail that stretches 30 million km into space.
The man who spotted the comet, Robert McNaught, 50, originally from Prestwick, Ayrshire, was working at Siding Spring Observatory in NSW when he first saw it last August.
It is so bright that some people in Auckland contacted the emergency services fearing that a plane had fallen out of the sky.

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Comet McNaught Captured from Cerro Pachon Marie-Claire Hainaut, a member of the Gemini science staff, was observing with the Gemini South telescope in central Chile on the night of January 18th when she captured this image of Comet McNaught in the twilight sky. The recently arrived Comet McNaught has put on a world-wide show over the last two weeks during its apparition in the western sky. Surprising even veteran comet researchers, McNaught has become the brightest comet visible in over 40 years. The image taken by Marie-Claire shows the bright nucleus low in the sky over the town of Andacollo in the foothills of the central Andes. The sweeping dust tail of the comet can be seen extending over 30 degrees toward the zenith.

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Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) has not only become the brightest comet SOHO has ever seen, but even the brightest comet observed in over forty years! The comet swung by the sun on Jan 12th - 15th, and is now emerging into the skies of the southern hemisphere. During its close encounter with our mother star, comet McNaught became a naked-eye object in broad daylight. It was discovered on August 7th, 2006 by the hugely successful comet discoverer Rob McNaught (Siding Spring Survey). 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 AU  indicated already that the object had the potential to become very bright.

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This image  from the SECCHI/HI-1B instrument on the NASA STEREO-B (Behind) spacecraft was taken on January 11, 2007 just after the door covering the instrument was opened for the first time after the STEREO launch on October 26, 2006. The image is dominated by a spectacular view of comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught) The full field of view of the HI instrument is centred at about 14 degrees from sun centre and is 20 degrees wide. The comet tail is approximately 7 degrees in length and shows multiple rays. The coma is saturating the image even at the shortest exposure time of 1 sec. The images are full resolution 2048 x 2048, which corresponds to 35.1 arc sec/pixel. The SECCHI/HI instrument was built by a consortium consisting of NRL, the University of Birmingham (UK), Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (UK) and Centre Spatiale de Liege (Belgium).

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2006p1_comet
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Credit Noel Munford 



-- Edited by Blobrana at 04:18, 2007-01-20

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An image taken by the STEREO satellite of Comet McNaught on January 11th, 2007, 18:30 UT.

2006p1_comet
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Credit NRL

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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.

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C2006P1_C3_
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Credits: ESA, NASA SOHO/LASCO team

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.

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A newfound comet is about to loop around the sun and might offer skywatchers a rare and fantastic view. But comets are unpredictable, and this one has a wide range of possible outcomes, experts say.

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Comet 2006 P1 ( McNaught ) is now observable as a magnitude 5.7 fuzzy star in the constellation Aquila low in the morning sky, from the northern hemisphere .

Geneve-2007-1-5-7h20m
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