New Comet McNaught C/2009 R1 Becoming Visible!
There is the potential for all of us to be able to see a newly discovered comet with the naked eye within the next month! Comet McNaught, which is officially cataloged as C/2009 R1 was discovered by Australian astronomer Robert McNaught in September of 2009. The comet is already visible through binoculars and is sporting an impressive tail. It is predicted that the comet will pass closest to Earth next week and continue on toward the sun, where it will reach perihelion on July 2.
If you live in the northern hemishpere, your best bet to view this slowly brightening comet will be to get up a couple of hours before sunrise. Look toward the constellation Perseus which you will find low in northeast part of the sky. It should pass the star Mirfak around June 14 which is about 20 degrees above the horizon.
Don’t get too excited though, the comet will appear dim and diffuse – a fuzzy patch of light. For those of you who’ve been fortunate to see a comet before, you know what I’m talking about. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you will be able to make it out better and you should be able to discern a green cast to it.
As the month goes by, Comet McNaught will continue to slip lower toward the horizon passing the very bright star, Capella in the constellation Ariga around June 22. At this point in time, the comet will be visible in both the evening and morning – but it will be difficult to see because it will be so close to the horizon.
If you are good with a camera and telescope you should be able to capture the comet! The image above was taken by Michael Jager of Stixendorf, Austria on June 6, 2010. If do get a picture of the comet, send it to us – we’ll post it for all the Outerspace Universe fans to enjoy.
Picture credit: Michael Jager