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Bad Astronomy
By Phil Plait
Jan 12, 2007 5:51 AMNov 5, 2019 6:53 AM


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OMG. I just came back from viewing Comet McNaught. I went outside my house just after the Sun went below the horizon, and found the comet within seconds using my binoculars. It was gorgeous. The head is phenomenally bright, easily magnitude 0 if not -1. The tail is very bright near the head, and sweeps up and to the right, pointing away from the Sun. I then backed off the binocs, and saw the comet with my unaided eyes. It was obvious... and then I realized I could see the tail! It was very easy to spot fanning away from the bright pinpoint head. That was so cool! You have to realize, the sky was still very bright; the Sun had just set minutes before. I could have easily read small print in a book, to give you an idea of how much twilight there was. Yet there was the comet's tail! I could trace it for easily a half degree, the size of the full Moon, with just my eyes. It was several degrees long through the binocs. Fan-frakking-tastic. It's already set for everyone in the continental U.S. as I write this, but it'll be visible tomorrow night as well. If weather permits, tomorrow GO OUTSIDE AND LOOK FOR THIS COMET. Wow.

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