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Comet McNaught – tonight!

15 June, 2010

Comet McNaught

Explanation: A new comet is brightening and is now expected to become visible to the unaided eye later this month. C/2009 R1 (McNaught) is already showing an impressive tail and is currently visible through binoculars. The above image, taken yesterday from the Altamira Observatory in the Canary Islands and spanning about five degrees, shows an impressive green coma and a long ion tail in front of distant star trails. Although predicting the brightness of comets is notoriously difficult, current estimates place Comet McNaught as becoming visible to unaided northern hemisphere observers in late June, before sunrise, and in early July, after sunset. Discovered by Robert McNaught last year, the sun-orbiting iceberg will pass the Earth next week and will continue to melt and shed debris as it closes in on the Sun until early July. After reaching about half of the Earth-Sun distance from the Sun, the comet should fade rapidly as it then heads out of the inner Solar System.

Notice this is called a sun orbiting iceberg. Now look into this these interesting ice metorite impact events recently – in China and elsewhere…just curious how they could be related…

As of this writing, on June 10, 2010, Comet McNaught is moving from the constellation Andromeda into the constellation Perseus. On June 13, Comet McNaught will be between the two brightest stars in the constellation Perseus. By June 21, Comet McNaught will pass very close to Capella, the brightest star in the constellation Auriga.

Stargazers who want to observe Comet McNaught should get up an hour or two before dawn, go to a dark sky location, and look in the northeast sky in the direction of the constellation Perseus. Stargazers unfamiliar with the constellation Perseus should look low in the northeastern sky a little before dawn during the latter part of June 2010.

If Comet McNaught continues to brighten, it will be well worth rising early.

the meanings of names has been fascinating to me, so I throw this in too, as we look towards tonight’s sky with anticipation 🙂


This most interesting surname, found in Scotland in the late 13th Century, has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be a Donegal form of “MacKnight” (an Irish name, though not Gaelic in origin, which is the Anglicized form of “Mac an ridire”, meaning “son of the knight”, an Irish surname adopted by a branch of the Norman family of Fitzsimons, who were located in Co. Meath, in medieval times. Alternatively, the surname may sometimes be of Scottish origin, being an abbreviated form of “MacNaughton”, which is the Anglicized version of the Gaelic “Mac Neachdainn”, composed of the elements “mac”, son of, and the personal name “Neachdain”, from the Pictish “Nechtan”, pure. Other spellings of the surname include McNaughtan, McNaughten, McNauchtan, McNeight, and McNutt. Cristinus McNawyche witnessed a charter by John de Meneteeche, lord of Arran and Knapdale, to the monastery of Kilwinning in 1357, according to the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland (1306 – 1668). Isabel MacNaught married Roger Austin on April 14th 1700 at Londonderry, and Dora McNaught married Cromwell Nicholson on July 30th 1733 at Downpatrick, Co. Down. One Pat McNaught, aged 29 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool aboard the “Windsor-Castle” bound for New York on June 9th 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gillecrist MacNachtan, which was dated 1247, in the “Charters, Bulls and Other Documents Relating to the Abbey of Inchaffray”, during the reign of King Alexander 11, Ruler of Scotland, 1214 – 1249. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

This event is also occuring during the planetary alignment, and eclipses – see earlier post [here]

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