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From: TerryMoselat signaol.com
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2007 18:24:08 EST
Subject: Comet McNaught photo'd from Ireland, Lecture, Meet J Brown

Hi all,
 
1. Comet McNaught is now really  spectacular! David Moore from Dublin first 
spotted it several days ago, and now  Martin McKenna from Maghera has both seen 
and imaged it. Congrats to Martin for  another excellent achievement! Here's 
his report (slightly edited):
 
"Hi Terry,
I wish to report that after eight separate attempts to find comet Mc Naught  
which were hampered by clouds I finally suceeded in tracking down this 
exciting  comet this evening (Jan 9th). I packed my ETX 90mm with 40mm 1.25" (31X)  
eyepiece (FOV=2 degrees), 10X50mm binoculars, camera and tripod into a rucksack 
 and walked several hundred metres to a location which is on an elevated 
position  providing me with a good SW horizon. The sky was 97% clear with trans = 
8/10. I  set up my gear and watched the sun set while ignoring the strange 
looks I was  getting from neighbours walking by and waited. Brilliant Venus 
emerged out of  the twilight first then at 16.40 UT I spotted Mc Naught in very 
bright blue  twilight well placed in the SW sky approx 18 degrees west of Venus. 
The comet  was gorgeous! I could easily see it with the naked eye including 
its bright high  surface brightness white dust tail pointing to the NW at a 45 
degree  angle.
 
Through the ETX the coma was a bright golden coloured very highly  condensed 
object with sharp well defined edges, not too different from a  planetary 
disk. It measured + 2' in diameter. The long dust tail was visible for  15' and a 
vivid pearly white colour. In the 10X50's the tail was seen for 1  degree. 
This comet looks very healthy and bright and I would suspect its best  show is 
yet to come. With the naked eye it hung over the tower of Maghera police  
station and the security camera seemed to be pointed directly at the  comet. A 
gorgeous object! 
Mag -1.5 Dia 2' DC 9 Tail= 1 degree NW. Images attached = Fuji S5600 5.1MP,  
ISO 100, 10X optical zoom, 1/20th sec. From a very excited Martin Mc  Kenna.
link." 

  

2. A final reminder: The opening lecture of the Irish  Astronomical 
Association's 2007 programme will be on Wed 10  January, when Prof John Brown, 
Astronomer Royal for Scotland,  will give a public lecture entitled: "Black Holes and 
White  Rabbits". Prof Brown is also an accomplished magician, and he really  
does incorporate some spectacular magic into a proper astronomical lecture!  
Amazingly entertaining, as well as informative! Not to be  missed.    7.30 p.m., 
Lecture Room 5, Stranmillis College,  Stranmillis Road, Belfast. Admission 
free, including light refreshments, and all  are welcome. 

3. ECLIPSES PAST & NEXT: Prof  Brown has also suggested meeting up again with 
any of you who were lucky  enough to be on our eclipse trip to Turkey, and we 
have arranged to meet with  him & Margaret in the bar of the Wellington Park 
Hotel, Malone Road,  Belfast, on Thursday 11th at 8 p.m. As well as the chance 
for a re-union, John  has also, at my request, been making enquiries with his 
astronomical contacts at  Novosibirsk University regarding a possible trip 
there to see the next total  solar eclipse on 1/8/2008, and will have some 
up-to-date information to tell us.  It would be a useful opportunity to discuss the 
options, if you are  interested. 
If there is any change to those arrangements I will let you know by email no  
later than late on Wednesday evening. Please could you let me know by return 
if  you are likely to go to that meeting, so we can estimate numbers. And 
please  pass this on to anyone else you know who might be interested in any such  
trip. 

Clear Skies, 
Terry Moseley 


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