C/2005 E2 (McNaught) – January 22, 2006

Note: There are many comets with the name “McNaught” assigned to them. If you are looking for information on the bright twilight comet visible in January 2007, I have an observation and sketches available here: C/2006 P1 (McNaught). The observation on this page is for C/2005 E2 (McNaught) in January 2006. For detailed information on the 2007 comet, C/2006 P1 (McNaught), see also the Aerith.net site.

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Observation Notes:

I thought it would be nice to catch this comet from a dark site to help make up for its proximity to the horizon at evening twilight. I didn’t count on the zodiacal light. It was massive and bright, and the comet was right in the meat of it. I was surprised to see it at all. Star hopping was tough–lambda aquarii (mag 3.7) was visible naked eye, but Kappa Aquarii (mag 5) was not. Once I got to the correct area, the comet showed up as a very subtle brightening in an already bright field. The core appeared as almost stellar with averted vision. I had to sketch the field and comet quickly to catch it before it sunk behind the hills to the west. As a result, I wasn’t able to capture a second position to note motion. Bill Ferris took a look and confirmed the observation. The visible width of the coma appeared to be about 3-4 minutes in diameter. The background of the sketch has been lightened to represent the bright sky background.

Subject C/2005 E2 (McNaught)
Classification Comet
Position* Aquarius [RA: 22:43:54 / Dec: -04:22:27]
Size 3′ (rough estimate)
Brightness* 9.2
Date/Time January 21, 2006 – 07:45 PM MST
(January 22, 2006 – 02:45 UT)
Observing Loc. Beaver Creek Trailhead, AZ
Instrument Orion SVP 6LT Reflector (150 mm dia./1200 mm F/L)
Eyepieces/Mag. 32 mm (37.5X)
Conditions Clear, breezy
Seeing 3/10
Transparency Mag 4 NELM in vicinity of Aquarius
*Sources Orion’s The Sky Software

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