Saturday, January 20, 2007
How to spot Comet McNaught in Singapore
If you have not yet seen Comet McNaught, the 2nd brightest comet since 1935, you may have another chance to view it later this evening till February.
I've produced a map of the sky as seen from Singapore, January 20, at 7.15pm using SkyTonight.com's Interactive Sky Chart. I then manually plot the path of Comet McNaught onto it. As you can see from the map, Comet McNaught can be seen in the South West sky after sunset. The only brighter object in the sky other than the comet is planet Venus which should be an easy object to spot. The only bright star in this region is Fomalhaut (at the top of the map). The crescent moon (not in the map) should be visible near Venus tomorrow evening. Remember, you need a clear sky if you are going to spot anything.
How bright is Comet McNaught? At its peak during January 14-15, it was shining at around -5 magnitude, making it the brightest comet since Comet Ikeya-Seki which was seen in 1965. How bright is a -5 magnitude? Venus, at its brightest shines at -4.7. At its peak, Comet McNaught was brighter than Venus! The faintest star seen with the naked eye from a very dark and clear sky shines at magnitude +6.
Currently, Comet McNaught is still shining brightly and it is still in the negative magnitude range. It is now a magnificent sight for people who are living in the southern hemisphere (Australia, etc). Here's a sky map for those in the south. And because Singapore is located just slightly above the equator, we are also able to view the comet. Unfortunately, those of you living further up in the north (United States, etc) will no longer be able to spot it but because its tail is so bright and long, you may still be able to spot just the tail two or more hours after the head has set. Amazing aye! Don't believe me? Check out these photos.
I had failed in my previous attempts to view Comet McNaught during the past week, no thanks to the bloody clouds but I'm hopeful I will get to view it during the next few evenings. This evening looks like a no-show because it is overcast now. Argh! Damn it!
In 1995 and 1996, I observed two great comets, Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake, and oh boy, were they spectacular! I guess I will be gutted if I can't add another great comet (McNaught) to my collection.
Comet McNaught visible in broad daylight
New naked eye comet!
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