Comet McNaught C/2009 R1 will become brighter than first thought and willbe visible to the naked eye over the next few weeks. Australian astronomer Robert McNaught discovered the comet last September using the 0.5-meter Uppsala Schmidt telescope and a CCD camera. Enough observations were made of the comet to allow Brian Marsden of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., to calculate its orbit.Comet McNaught is expected to pass closest to the sun at 37 million miles on July 2. The comet is visible now for people with dark skies away from urban and suburban lightning. It may be an easy skywatching target for most people by mid-June.Comets brighten as they get closer to the sun because solar radiation boils icy particles and dust off the comet’s nucleus. As the comet approaches the sun, amateur and professional astronomers around the
globe have been watching with interest as it slowly increased in brightness.The comet was estimated at magnitude +12 when April began. That is about 250 times dimmer than the faintest star that one might see with an unaided eye. However, the comet started brightening more rapidly in the days and weeks that followed and it is now bright enough to be seen with the naked eye in a dark, clear sky.Alexandre Amorium of Florianopolis, Brazil told Space.com that he saw the comet on June 6 by using 10×50 binoculars and estimated the magnitude as +5.5. That is about as bright as the faintest star in the bowl of the little dipper. The comet is expected to continue to brighten as it gets closer to the sun.The best time for a person to try and catch a glimpse of the comet is about two hours before sunrise. The comet is currently moving through the constellation of Perseus, which will be low in the northeast part of the sky at an early hour.The comet will appear as a dim and diffuse, circular path of light. John Bortle, a well-known comet observer, said McNaught’s appearance resembles an “apple on a stick.” “From the few rough magnitude estimates I have seen posted, it would appear that the comet is perhaps a magnitude brighter than had been anticipated, but whether this trend will continue is, as usual, anybody’s guess,” Bortle told Space.com. Comets are unpredictable, but astronomers believe the comet will reach a magnitude of +2 by the end of June. news from: redorbit.com ~ C/2009 R1, one of more than fifty comets known as
Comet McNaught,is a non-periodic comet discovered by British-Australian astronomer Robert H. McNaught on September 9, 2009, using the Uppsala Schmidt telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia.The discovery was confirmed the same day at the Optical Ground Station telescope at Tenerife.After the discovery, earlier images of the comet were found from July 20, August 1, and August 18, 2009. Because it has an estimated eccentricity over 1.0, suggesting a hyperbolic trajectory, it is believed C/2009 R1 will leave the Solar System permanently. In early June, 2010, C/2009 R1 was visible with binoculars, and by June 8 it was visible to the unaided eye in a dark sky with little light pollution.It is expected to grow brighter and become widely visible to the unaided eye by mid- or late-June, at which time it will appear between the constellations Auriga and Gemini.Because the new moon on June 12 will provide an particularly dark night sky, the weekend of Friday, June 11 to Sunday, June 13 is expected to be the best time to view the comet, and it is expected to be “an easy skywatching target for most people.”Cometary brightness is difficult to predict, especially when, as in this case, it is the first known appearance of the comet; so far C/2009 R1 is proving to be brighter than expected, so much so that Sky and Telescope retitled an online article from “Faint Comet in the June
dawn” to “Comet in the June dawn”. C/2009 R1 is expected to eventually reach a brightness as high as magnitude 2 from June 30 to July 2, 2010,the latter date marking perihelion; however, as it brightens, its proximity to the sun will make it difficult to see, and it is likely to only be visible near the horizon at dawn and dusk.The exception to this will be the total solar eclipse on July 11 in the Southern Hemisphere (visible in the South Pacific, touching land at Mangaia, Easter Island, and far southern Chile and Argentina), which will allow the comet to be seen during the day. The comet is notable for its “impressive green coma and long ion tail”, which spanned 5 degrees as of June 6, 2010, and its appearance has been likened to an “apple on a stick.” Robert H. McNaught (born in Scotland in 1956) is a Scottish-Australian astronomer at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the Australian National University. He has collaborated with David J. Asher of the Armagh Observatory. He is a prolific discoverer of asteroids, and participates in the Siding Spring Survey. He is also a co-discoverer of periodic comet 130P/McNaught-Hughes and, using the Uppsala Schmidt telescope, discovered comet C/2006 P1 on August 7, 2006, which became the brightest comet in several decades. It made perihelion on 12 January 2007, and became easily visible to the naked eye for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.McNaught has discovered twenty-seven long-period comets. ~ GoodNews International Edition
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