C/2006 P1 (McNaught)

Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught) was a difficult object for northern hemisphere observers early January due to its poor elongation from the Sun. However, it brightened rapidly (to an estimated mag -5) as it approached perihelion on the the 12th January and there were reports of daylight naked eye sightings. After perihelion it headed southwards becoming a magnificent naked eye object from southern Australia with a glorious curving fantail over 20 degrees in length. Although it faded rapidly, it remained a beautiful object for several weeks afterwards.

Here are a series of images of this remarkable object captured from locations in and around Melbourne, Australia.


Imaged on 2007 Jan 14 at 20:57 local time just a few minutes after sunset; the first view from the southern hemisphere. The inset shows a close up. It was not naked eye visible, but easy in 12x80 binoculars.
Digital image taken on Jan 22, from south of Frankston, Victoria. The striae in the curving tail are clearly defined. Awesome!
Film image taken on Jan 22; the higher resolution of film compared with my digital camera (4mp) allows more detail in the tail to be revealed.
Jan 23; noticeably fainter this night - still magnificent.
Jan 23; digital image by eyepiece projection through my 15cm f/4 Newtonian. The tail is split in two by a narrow dark lane.
Jan 25; Comet is fading and moonlight brightens the sky.
Jan 28; still an obvious naked eye object, but much less impressive because of moonlight; compare with images taken on the 22nd.
Jan 29; easily seen with naked eye in darkish SSW sky despite 10 day old Moon; tail 5 degrees long.
Imaged on the 12th February 2007, with the Large and Small Magellanic clouds above; 5min exposure through a 28mm lens at f/1.8. Comet was clearly visible to the naked eye - estimated magnitude +4.
A close up on the 12th February. The Comet's fantail was beautiful viewed through binoculars; 5min exposure through a 180mm lend at f/2.5.
A very wide angle view imaged on the 17th February; Comet was just visible to the naked eye. Here it is (bottom left) sharing stage with the Magellanic Clouds and Milky Way field from Scorpius to Canis Major; 30min exposure through a 16mm lens at f/2.8.

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