Observing Log for 2007-01-10

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Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-01-10 13:00 UT
To: 2007-01-10 13:05 UT
Equipment: Solarscope
Naked Eye
Temperature: 8.4C ...
Dew Point: 4.0C ...
Humidity: 74% ...
Wind Speed: 8.8mph ...
Wind Dir: West ...
Pressure: 1004.1hPa ...

Clear but windy day. Took the Solarscope out to do a quick sunspot count.


From: 2007-01-10 13:00 UT
To: 2007-01-10 13:05 UT

Three active areas visible today. Active area 933 had two visible spots (1 very small). Area 935 had 1 large spot. New area 937 also had 1 small spot visible.

The large spot in area 935 was just visible to the naked eye.

Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2007-01-10 17:00 UT
To: 2007-01-10 17:20 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Meade 10x50 Binoculars
Temperature: 6.4C ...
Dew Point: 2.2C ...
Humidity: 75% ...
Wind Speed: 0.8mph ...
Wind Dir: South West ...
Pressure: 1010.5hPa ...

Clear but breezy evening. Decided to talk a walk to the western edge of the village to try and catch a glimpse of comet McNaught.

Comet C/2006 P1 McNaught

From: 2007-01-10 17:00 UT
To: 2007-01-10 17:20 UT

Joined by my wife and son, I took a walk out to the western edge of our village with a hope of catching a glimpse of comet McNaught. This was the first chance I'd had due to bad weather during previous mornings and evenings. Not being sure what to expect (I guess I was expecting something small and fuzzy, probably needing a binocular to find before seeing with the naked eye) I went armed with the Meade 10x50 binoculars.

As we were walking something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. Through some trees I could see the comet. It was huge and bright! Much bigger and brighter than I'd expected. We carried on to the chosen viewing position (looking out over a field with a reasonably clear horizon).

By the time we got to the chosen location I'd say that the comet was about above the horizon (just a rough guess). The head was very bright and I estimated the tail to be about 1 to 2 widths of my thumb held at arms length. It's hard to estimate how bright the head was but, had it been higher, I'd have thought that (taking its diffuse nature into account) it would have been a reasonable rival to Venus (which was visible further to the south). That's not to say it was as bright, just that it probably would be almost as obvious. Some people have been estimating its magnitude as -2.

Beyond the above I didn't really make a note of any "technical" details, time was too short and the sight was just too breathtaking. This is the first big, bright comet I've seen in almost 10 years and it was hard not to just stand there and state and be amazed. My wife and son were both very excited by the view too (all the more special for my son given that this was his first ever view of a comet).

Sadly the view was all too short. Within about 10 minutes of us first seeing it the head had gone behind some trees on the horizon. I watched the tail (both naked eye and through the binocular) for a few minutes more until the view was lost to the thickness of the atmosphere so close to the horizon. It was all over by around 17:20 UT.

Page last modified: 2013-04-09 09:19:19 UT
Dave Pearson <davep@davep.org>
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