9-10.01.2007: Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught)

Just after sunset, clearings formed west of Munich. In spite of remaining cloud bands, McNaught was conspicuous to the naked eye (about -2 mag, not much fainter than Venus) and gorgeous with binoculars. The brightest comet since Hale-Bopp in 1997, and arguably the loveliest one since West in 1976.

Images: Nikon D100, 550/6.3 Maksutov, ISO 200, 1/8s to 1/2s exposure.
From EPO Skybar, Munich.

C/2006 P1 (McNaught), Munich Skybar, 10.01.07, 16:27 UTC, Nikon D100, ETX 90, 3x 3s, ISO 400, cropped to 1 FOV.

13.01.2007: Daylight McNaught

Some clearings came over Munich, allowing visual observations of McNaught in daylight: C11, x110, orange filter / no filter: pseudo-nucleus surface brightness at least as large as Venus; hints of an antisolar shell, better visible during "eclipses" = Sun behind clouds but comet in blue sky. Many images taken with D100 and C11, Contrast Booster & no filter, f/11 & f/22. Here a composite of 3 images, no filter, f/11, 1/2000s, ISO 200, 10:45 UTC, cropped to FOV = 13'.

The comet was an easy binocular (10x42) object in the afternoon of 13.01.07. Around 15:10 UTC i.e. more than half an hour before sunset (15:44), it became visible to the naked eye. At sunset, it was hardly less visible than Venus. In view of the small elongation and altitude of the comet, it must have been substantially brighter than Venus, about -5 mag (indeed, recent magnitude estimates range between -4.7 and -6). A very compact object, with a tail visible over less than 1, hence less spectacular than on 10.01.07.

Numerous short exposure images were taken with the D100 and the Maksutov, in the 1000/11 and 550/6.3 configurations. Here birds in the foreground, before sunset (15:10 & 15:41); a "mock comet" made of cirrus and contrails (15:53); and an airplane, then cloud bands next to the setting comet (16:05 & 16:11).