image by Mila Zinkova, San Francisco, California
The Moon is the most fascinating object in the sky, but not the only thing there. Looking west across the Pacific from San Francisco, Mila captured the one+ day old Moon with stars and the wispy tails from Comet McNaught. This dramatic image immediately reminded me of a famous drawing of the comet of 1744. Like McNaught, the 1744 comet was visible during the day, brighter than Venus, and had a peacock array of about a dozen tail streamers. A modern interpretation is that the fan of streamers derived from three separate source regions that jetted gas and dust. The long exposure (20 seconds) needed to capture the faint tails (and starry background) resulted in an over-exposed Moon which no longer appears as the thin crescent it was. The bright star below the Moon is presumably Venus, which was above the Moon when seen from England roughly 8 hours earlier. I wish I had seen this comet…
Jan 20, 2007. Canon XTI, 18 mm lens ISO 800, f1.8, exposure time 20 seconds.
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