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my photos of comet McNaught C/2006 P1

see also:


  • this comet proved to be the brightest comet in 40yrs, reaching approx. stellar magnitude of minus 5 to 6, brighter than venus and bright enough to be seen in daylight using a telescope.
  • it was discovered in August 2006 by Australian astronomer R.H. McNaught at Siding Springs Observatory when it was magnitude 17.3.
  • its brightness peaked at perihelion on 12th Jan 2007 but it was not until 7-10 days later that it really blossomed for viewers in the southern hemisphere showing off its beautiful curved, striated tail.
  • its brightness rapidly fell as it moved away from the sun, and this combined with interference from moonlight from 28th onwards made it harder to see the extent of the tail with the naked eye as the comet head fell to magnitude 2 by the 28th Jan.

my photo of comet McNaught on Jan 22nd 2007 on the outskirts of Melbourne within constellation Microscopium

25sec, f/2, 400ISO, Olympus E330 with Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 lens giving effective 100mm focal length and field of view ~20deg

image has been cropped about 10% and resized to web after adjustment of levels in PS.

brightness magnitudes: head of comet is ~minus 1, striated tail ~5-7, vertical triple stars within tail 6.7-7.3, brightest star in top right is Al Na'ir in Grus at 1.7

a difference of 5 magnitudes = 100x = ~6.5 f stops dynamic range, fortunately the comet head is closer to the horizon than the distal tail so light extinction makes it appear dimmer and thus reduces the dynamic range, even so, what is not shown is the much longer dimmer tail which light pollution prevented me photographing.

My photo of comet McNaught taken 23rd Jan 2007, Olympus E330, 60sec, ISO400, Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 lens at F/2 in rural region which allowed me longer exposure to better demonstrate the fantastic tail.

click here for a wallpaper size version at 1600x1200

My niece checking out the comet on 24th Jan before it fades away for ever.

Olympus E330, 20sec, kit lens, f/3.8, 400ISO +1stop boost in RAW. Metz 45CL4 Flash on Winder setting.

Here is a 100% crop of the much fainter Comet McNaught taken on 28th Jan 2007 

showing a anti-tail due to heavier dust particles left in the trail of its orbit

Olympus E330, 100ISO, 60sec, Zuiko OM 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/2, heavy curves applied to accentuate anti-tail.

Here is the full but resized version of the above and you can just see the small anti-tail.

Note the moonlight on the 28th made visibility of the tail difficult and prevented longer exposures.

Here is a crop of a medium format TMax 100ASA B&W film taken on 23/1/2007

using 80mm lens at f/2.8 and exposure was about 2-3min

unfortunately, car headlights in the distance caused the light gradient.

and finally… medium format Rollei Infrared B&W film 400ASA on 23/1/2007

using 80mm lens at f/2.8 and exposure was about 2-3min

this time an aeroplane flew across the scene.

The 60sec digital version on 23/1/2007 beats these - no wonder digital has taken over most of astrophotography!

photo/cometmcnaughtp1.txt · Last modified: 2013/02/04 23:14 by gary1

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