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Comet McNaught Tail Streamers

Ghostly streamers from the tail of Comet McNaught (C/2006 P1) are seen in the constellation of Aquarius. The head of the spectacular comet was not visible from the northern hemisphere since it had rounded the Sun and moved into the southern skies. Its incredible tail, however, stretched up over the horizon and was visible from as far as 40 degrees north latitude.

The setting crescent Moon with Earthshine can be seen in the lower center of the frame above the horizon with Venus about 3 degrees below and to the right of it. The sunlit crescent, although just two days old, is greatly overexposed in this 10 second exposure.

This picture was taken from Sunset Beach in Cape May, New Jersey just after the end of astronomical twilight. The beach looks out over the Delaware Bay. Lights on the horizon are from passing ships. The 25 mph wind, which gusted at times to 35 mph in temperatures well below freezing, blew sea spray and sand throughout the observing session.

Waves crashing against a jetty in the foreground are blurred by the long time exposure. The remains of the wreck of the World War 1 concrete ship Atlantus can also be seen sticking up out of the water off the shore of the beach at lower right.

Exposure Data for the Comet Streamers Image
  • Lens: Canon 16 - 35mm f/2.8 USM L Zoom lens working at 23mm
  • F/stop: f/2.8
  • Exposure: Single 10 second exposure
  • Mount: Fixed Tripod
  • Camera: Canon EOS 20Da DSLR
  • Mode: RAW
  • ISO: 1600
  • White Balance: Custom
  • In-Camera Noise Reduction: Off
  • Filter: None
  • Temp: 26F with 25mph wind gusting to 35mph
  • Time: 6:35 p.m. EST
  • Date January 20, 2007
  • Location: Sunset Beach, Cape May, New Jersey
  • Calibration: None
  • Processing: HDR Image with masks in Photoshop CS2.

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