stellar_muddle: (Default)
After a couple abortive attempts*, got to see Comet McNaught again last night. Very much worth it. Previously (14/15.1.07) it had had sod all tail and almost disappeared if you looked at it directly with the naked eye but was still cool. Last night... Oh wow. Huge tail and clearly visable to the naked eye. Last time the carpark along the beach was clearing of people round sunset, this time it had definitely filled and the sidewalk was lined with people and cameras. We didn't take our camera (no tripod), but you definitely got a good view with the binoculars. Beats Halley and the others I have seen.

Fingers crossed that things clear in Wellington so family can see it. Wonder if it will still be bright enough at CF and if the surrounding horizon is low enough... Unfortunately due to fade fast though.

* Key barrel on car buggered - Z hotwires it only to discover the steering lock is borderline such that steering lock will engage randomly - not good for driving. Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] anthraxia and [livejournal.com profile] evildrakey for interupting packing and "dragging" us out.
stellar_muddle: (Default)
Comet confirmed this evening. And even visable with the naked eye, though better with binoculars. Definite tail. This time round were joined by [livejournal.com profile] evildrakey, [livejournal.com profile] anthraxia, G, Digby and Nutmeg. Played in the nice warm water - Z didn't quite swim out to the comet...
Probably back to beach tomorrow evening, but more for warm/cool water and 40 degree forecast than comet I think.
stellar_muddle: (Default)
Don't know how long this will stay current but you may be able to wander outside and see Comet McNaught during the day:
http://www.spaceweather.com/ (it is the 14th Jan posting but US time, so may still be bright here... translate south to north - it should be below the sun prior to your local siderial noon and above the sun after.)
Just remember to be very careful when looking in the direction of the sun... I plan to carefully try to use the veranda roof to block things...

Stil heading to the beach this evening.

Edit: better comet link here from the comet's discoverer based at SSO including southern hemisphere (well, Sydney latitude) viewing info and brightness info.
From the site:

The best geometry occurs on Jan 15, with the comet starting to move away from the sun (now 7 degrees) and almost directly above the position of the sun at sunset. The head will set about 39 mins after the sun, although the azimuth at which it sets will be 5.0 degrees to the left of the sunset point. It is quite reasonable to expect the tail to remain visible up to an hour after sunset, so it may be seen in a dark sky.

On Jan 15 the comet is already 3 degrees from Mercury, up to the left.

By Jan 16, the effect of forward scattering will have dropped back to about zero and the comet will already be heading away from the Sun and Earth; back to the obscurity of the Oort cloud. Although now clearly fading, it will be moving higher into the southern sky away from the sun. At sunset on the 16th, the comet will be about 10 degrees from the sun and just left of directly above the Sun at sunset. It will set 54 mins after the sun, 9 degrees to the left of the sunset point.

From Jan 17 onwards, the comet, although fainter, should be well visible in the darker skies. It then moves into the SW sky at roughly a 45 deg angle up to the left of the sunset point. The angular distance of the comet from sun at the time of sunset from Sydney then increases on a daily basis:

Found it!

Jan. 14th, 2007 10:21 pm
stellar_muddle: (Default)
Well, we wombled down to the beach a bit before sunset, wandered along ankle deep in warm water and initially failed to spot Comet McNaught - haze near the horizon and very slight cloud. But then on the way back down the beach, we talked to a few more prepared/experianced observers (they were photographing) and with some pointing from them found it. Needed binoculars - it was only a vague fuzz out of the corner of one eye unaided and was very close to the horizon about 10(?) min after sunset, but it did appear to have two tails.

So, we head back down to the beach tomorrow evening, with togs (cause the forecast is for 36 degrees out) and look for it again. And remember that we are only 10 min drive from the beach and want to go more often.
stellar_muddle: (Default)
Pause for itemisation and sorting - clothing looks good for CF. Undertunic is having the side seams finished and then will just need cuff and hem. Then I finish the red (purple really, matches some of the canvas) diamond wool tunic. Not certain if it is worth bringing over feast gear or scrounging while over. Tent(s) and some bedding should be with Z's family. Then we had the bright idea that a double swag would give us good bedding and allow us to take clothing over in it. And we have the canvas - will pick up a mattress/foam mat for it in Chch. So, a new sewing project for the next 2 weeks - at least it is definetely being machine sewn.

Comet watching planned for Sun evening (and Mon if that fails). And lawn mowing and gardening. And Z needs to put in ~3 hours work - apparently about a novel worth... Currently Z is reading while watching music train wrecks. His leather sewing (shoe repair) has stopped due to finger/awl interaction in the wrong way.

So, who else has garb that looks as though it is ready to be put in the midden or was just fished out from it?

Should stop writing and giggling at the Madonna video marathon on Rage - the chronological entertainment is interesting, though I don't think we will stay up til the 5:30am finish. May put in a tape for the Evita songs round 3:30 am though. It is not the same listening to Like a Virgin after Moulin Rouge...
stellar_muddle: (Default)
APOD has a quite cool image of a current bright comet: Comet McNaught. Supposed to be near the horizon near dusk and dawn - currently in Aquila, moving out from behind the Sun. Not certain if is viewible from the southern hemisphere currently, though it was discovered by an Aussie at Siding Springs. From the above site:

How bright will this comet become? A couple of months ago, discussions of this topic seemed a moot point as several respected amateur and professional astronomers considered the possibility that the comet would breakup around perihelion; however, the comet's recovery in twilight at the end of December seems to have raised hopes. Granted the comet will not be seen outside of twilight, but some of the estimates of what the comet's maximum brightness will be on January 12 and 13 indicate it might be a fairly easy object to see in evening twilight. Right now, it seems the maximum magnitude might reach -1.5 to -8.7. If the latter is true, the comet would be visible in broad daylight!

Fingers crossed it may be viewable. Need a fairly flat horizon with very minimal light pollution or to be quite high up.
Edit: Unfortunately from checking http://www.heavens-above.com/, looks like it will have the Sun chasing it down (at least this far north and west). It has obviously been too long since I have been observing, cause I can't work out the siderial time details and whether being further east will help. Unfortunately, I suspect not...
stellar_muddle: (Default)
For later reference:
Heavens-Above Main page (lat/long for Canberra) - try http://www.heavens-above.com/ for the generic site, where you can search for your specific location.
Yay to comets and satellites, though unfortunately the new bright one Astronomy Picture of the Day: Comet Pojmanski is only currently at mag 6.4, is an early morning object, and may no longer be observable from southern latitudes. And it was apparently briefly naked eye.

NB Googling _Heavens above sky watch_ found it fast. www.heavensabove.org wasn't, and was apparently "Britain's favourite on-line Sex Shop". Couldn't be arsed checking any further.

Still headachey, though better after shoulder massage. This probably means I will be good and head off to bed, rather than hunching over tablet weaving or a computer. Besides, have a good book.

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