Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1)

Observations in South Bavaria / Germany from the 7th to 15th of January 2007

Prognosis on 3.1.07;

If the comet will survive the way around the sun it will one of the most brightest  which can be ever observed. May the comet will exceed the legendary Hale Bopp. But don't forget, McNaught has such a close range ( 14° at 1.7.07 ) to the sun, that observations can only made after the sunset. The distance of only 7° at 1.12.07 will make observations may  impossible. In a distance of  0,17 AU at the 12th  of  January he will approach in his perihelion (closest distance of an planet etc. in his elliptical orbit around the sun ) more than twice times nearer as the planet Mercury. On the surface of Mercury temperatures over 500°C can be reached at the sunside and in case of that heat oven the big snowball will be cooked well. The destruction of comet McNaught can not be excluded.

Best time of view: 9th to 11th of January 2007, around 17:20 pm or 7:30 am MEZ (Munich, ~ 48,20°).


Map: 1.11.2007, 17:20 pm MEZ

14th/15th of January

Update 01.15.07: The last days of observation good weather and a perfect blue sky was dominating. But the try to get the comet with naked eye wasn't possible at all. At the 14th I could saw McN in a Telescope (2000mm SC) as a shallow shining bullet. The reason was maybe a little whitish shining background disturbance caused by a higher contigend of water in the lower  atmosphere. On the 15th no triage even in a refractor was successful.

13th of January

Update 01.13.07: Now it has gone real, to see the comet with the naked eye at the bright daylight. Much better with binoculars or a telescope. It is very useful to inform yourself about the real position. The following photos were taken at 15:00- 15:45 pm MEZ when the sun shined in full brightness 10- 15° degrees over the horizon.

Because of the close range to the sun, it is very important to handle very carefull  with binoculars etc. Direct sun light through an telescope or tele lens will cause immediately blindness!


An airplane is passing the comet. The distance of the airplane was calculated from me about 140 km by a mapping value of only 85" arcsec. Canon 20D, 860 mm Zeiss refractor, Exp.1/200sec, ASA 100, 15:30pm MEZ

Update 01.12.07: McNaught is now the brightest comet since 41 years which can be seen with naked eye. He will reach the light magnitude *mag (-5,0), and exceed the apperance of planet Venus. The actual brightness is apprx. ( mag -4 ). Maybe you'll get him during the day light. In comparision Hale Bopp had the most brightness of  mag (-0,8). The last comet in this illumination class was Comet West in 1976. Comet Ikeya-Seki with  mag -7,0 was the brightest comet in 1965.

Because of the visual range of ~ 5,5° to the sun it was expected that McNaught could only be observed by the sun probe SOHO.


Canon 20D, 860 mm refractor, Exp.1/200sec, ASA 100

Left & middle; The comet at 15:43 pm. Another airplane is passing the Coma. What a nice impression. To precind the comet tail, the right airplane photo was adjusted in brightness, contrast, and tonal value. Right photo at 16:33 pm MEZ



The last observation day at sunset. The close range of 5,5° to the sun let the real illumination of the comet get much weaker as the days before.


Cloister of Andechs

10th of January


Light impressions during sun set. Right: The comet in 135mm tele lens.


Canon 20D, 480 mm dig, Exp.1-2sec, ASA 100-200, pictures were token at the Auerberg, Bavaria.

The comet appears at 17:15 MEZ 4° degrees over the horizon.  At this position the comet had its most illumination. Comet Mc Naught is the brightest comet which was observed since 1965. The estimated magnitude will reach maybe - 4mag. 

tb                               ah                       tb

Middle: The church of  Schwabmünchen. Photographed  from Lagerlechfeld .

Andreas and the 15 seconds

Actually I wanted the comet on the other side of the church, but it was to late. I got this damned comet very close to the horizon for only15 seconds.

Left and right. The view to the coma by using the telescope. It wasn't it worthwile because the comet didn't show very much details. Siberia 1200mm/150, Exp.1/5, ASA 100

9th of January


A powerful comet set by Martin Rietze

Click to the Gif - Animation

The next gap in the cloud poker was realized by Martin. During heavy rain showers in Munich the sky opens 25 km westward in the region  Fuerstenfeldbruck



Canon 5D, 600 mm, Exp.1/30 and more

7th of January


After several tries the bad weather in Southern Germany gave us a little cloud gap in the evening of the 7th January. And the surprise is, comet Mc Naught is very clear and distincly visible with the naked eye. The photo upper left was taken with a 70mm objective (100mm dig; automatic exposure time 1 sec), and shows the real light conditions between the dawn and the comet at 17:26 MEZ.


The comet is plunging among the lower cloud and fog layers. Canon 20D, 480 mm dig, Exp.1sec, ASA 100

*mag  = > light magnitude: Up to mag +3-4 stars are visible nearby cities with the naked eye, in very dark areas the seeing limit can reach up to mag +6-7.

The more higher numerical value is given, the more weaker are the objects. E.g. - 4,7 mag, Venus glittering; - 1,0 Sirius, brightest star; 3,5 M31 Andromeda, pale shiny oval)

All comet observations from 2001 up to now ..

Further Links

More observations and informations from the 17th-24th of January




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 ©2006 photos& text by Thorsten Boeckel (tb) , ©2006 photos by Martin Rietze (mr), Andreas Heidl (ah)

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