A Comet and An Eclipsed Moon

This month, we have a treat from the sky – a naked-eye comet (maybe?) and a partial lunar eclipse.

Our potential naked eye comet was called Comet McNaught. It was discovered in September last year by Robert McNaught. If Comet McNaught sounds familiar to you, there’s no surprise because you must have heard of (or seen) the Great Comet of 2007 which is also known as Comet McNaught, and was also discovered by this same guy from Australia (these two comets are not the same, this one is C/2009 R1 while the other is C/2006 P1). Robert McNaught has discovered a total of 54 comets until now, so there is lots of Comet McNaught in the sky…

If predictions hold, this comet should glow around 5th magnitude as it flies across the constellation Perseus into Auriga. On June 21, it will pass less than 2 degrees above Capella, the brightest star in Auriga. For those who are familiar with the night sky will know that Perseus and Auriga are now visible near the horizon in the early morning just before the sun rises, so it may not easy to spot the comet although it’s bright – the morning twilight and clouds near the horizon may interfere with the observation. Anyway, go and give it a try and see if you can spot it. (Click here for the path of the comet, here for ephemeris and here for some pictures)

And on to the eclipsed Moon…

Partial lunar eclipse of Jan 2010. Credit: thChieh.

There will be a partial lunar eclipse on Jun 26, 2010. This partial lunar eclipse is visible from much of the Americas, the Pacific and eastern Asia. It is not well timed for observation in Malaysia though… The partial eclipse happens when the sky is still bright, and the greatest eclipse – when roughly 50% of our Moon passes into Earth’s shadow – happens when the sky is not totally dark yet, at 7:39 pm. But still, it’s dark enough for us to observe the “missing” part of the Moon.

Lunar eclipse is one of the easiest observations you can make. No matter where you are, as long as you can see the Moon during the time of the eclipse – in Malaysia, look east right after sunset – you can observe the event. No telescope is required!

Below are the timelines for the event. Click here for more details.

4:57 pm: Penumbral Eclipse Begins

6:17 pm: Partial Eclipse Begins

7:39 pm: Greatest Eclipse

9:00 pm: Partial Eclipse Ends

10:19 pm: Penumbral Eclipse Ends

So there you go. Two events to keep you busy for the month.

Clear Skies!


~ by thChieh on June 13, 2010.

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