Posts Tagged ‘Robert H. McNaught’

Comet McNaught 2010

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

McNaught Path through June/July
The image shows the path of McNaught from June 20 to July 12, 2010

C/2009 R1 (McNaught), known colloquially as Comet McNaught (though it is only one of 54 comets named for Robert H. McNaught of the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia), was discovered on September 9, 2009. He was using the 0.5-m Uppsala Schmidt telescope and a CCD camera when he discovered it.

Comets brighten as they get closer to the sun because solar radiation boils icy particles and dust off of the comet’s nucleus, which is what we see. A major factor in a comet becoming visible to the naked eye is its tail. Comets typically display two types of tails: gas and dust. Gas tails are straight and narrow, but they are difficult to see against the dark sky because they appear blue. Dust tails are normally fan-shaped, but easier to see because of their yellow color. Despite Comet McNaught only having a stubby dust tail, though, it has become bright enough to see with the naked eye (in the correct conditions).

Comet McNaught’s perihelion (the point at which it’s closest to the sun) will be on July 2, when it’s about 38 million miles from the sun (about the same distance as Mercury). It became visible to the naked eye (in dark skies) around June 9, 2010 and will be at its brightest from June 30 to July 2. Unfortunately, its altitude is quickly getting too low to be seen. On June 15, it was 20 degrees above the horizon; June 20, 15 degrees. By June 25, it will be barely visible in the morning and evening sky at about 6 degrees above the horizon.

This movie shows the path of the Comet McNaught from June 20 to July 13, 2010 around Sunset. Each frame is one day.

Please Note: The above article is made possible by the research and writing of JJ Stamm -  Thank you JJ

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