⇍   January 7th, 2007   ⇏ 

Copyright 2007 Michael Anttila

This afternoon at work I noticed that Aravind had posted some new astrophotography photos on his blog. Reading about his backyard exploits reminded me that I was supposed to be on the lookout for a comet this week! Looking out my office window I could see that it was almost sunset, and there were a few patches of clear sky, so I quickly consulted a sky chart online and raced home to see if I could see anything.

The comet in question is Comet McNaught, and it is quickly turning out to be one of the most spectacular comets in recent history. It can be seen just before sunrise and just after sunset... but you have to be looking for it at just the right time. In both cases, look in the general direction of the sun and if there are no clouds in the sky and your view to the horizon is unobstructed, you should easily be able to find it.

The comet is fairly bright right now (around Magnitude 2), and it will keep getting brighter until the 12th-14th, when it is expected to reach at least Magnitude -2. (Trust me: that is very bright!) So, watch the skies over the next couple of days and see if you can spot it.

When I got home today I grabbed my camera and Angela and I headed out to the nearest west-facing hill to go comet hunting. The clouds parted just long enough for me to take five or six photos. Unfortunately due to the conditions my camera was wobbling all over the place, so most of my photos were blurry. This one was the best of the bunch. Hopefully the weather will be more cooperative over the next few days and I will get a second chance to capture this amazing event.

Technical details: This was shot with my Rebel XT + 70-300 IS on a tripod at 300mm, ISO 200, f/11 for 0.6 seconds. I applied some curves in Photoshop to add more "pop" and enhance some detail in the comet's tail.

I chose a longer shutter speed so that I could capture the blinking light on the tower in the foreground. If I knew the wind would be such a problem I wouldn't have bothered with the tower and would have spent more time trying to get a stable in focus shot.


That's pretty impressive for a wobbly shot!! 
-- Alix at 11:34pm, Wednesday January 10, 2007 EST

Very cool!  I think it might clear up this weekend, so I'll be keeping an eye
out for it.
-- Aravind at 12:08pm, Thursday January 11, 2007 EST

We like it!

Shannon & Norm
-- Norm at 8:47pm, Sunday January 21, 2007 EST

Well, finally the clouds cleared, and reports say McNaught is getting fainter.
Inspired by your picture, I drove home due west from North Kanata to Almonte,
and enjoyed many beautiful views of a clear sky at sunset.  There was one very
bright large star in the west, just SW of where the sun had set.  Perhaps it
was Venus, but it was bigger and brighter than I've ever seen Venus, so I when
I got to town I went to the park to enjoy the view of the sky over the river. -
Thanks for the inspiration.
-- Mum at 7:17pm, Thursday January 25, 2007 EST

That's so fake!  Your supposed "comet" is clearly some sort of man made light
being suspended in the sky by a large radio tower of some sort.  If you look
closely you can make out the black line of the tower and even some of the
transmitter gear mounted to it.

-- Chad at 12:38pm, Wednesday February 7, 2007 EST

Methinks you need to look a little higher up in the photo.  ;)
-- Michael at 1:43pm, Wednesday February 7, 2007 EST

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