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Brightest Comet In 40 Years Dazzles

The McNaught Comet as seen in the northern hemisphere. Southern hemisphere residents can enjoy the light show this week.
by Staff Writers
Beijing, China (XNA) Jan 16, 2007
The brightest comet for more than 40 years dazzling the skies in the past week will shine over Australia from Monday, Austrailan astronomers said. The McNaught Comet is currently at its closest approach around the sun and will become visible to West Australians from Monday for about a week. James Biggs, director of the Perth Observatory, said. "It should be easy to locate. Find a vantage point with an unobstructed view and look low on the horizon near where the sun has set, in the direction of south-west, around 9 p.m. (WDT)," Biggs said.

The comet, which was discovered by Australian astronomer Rob McNaught last year, was 12 percent brighter than the sighting in 1995 of the Hale-Bopp Comet but still 25 times fainter than 1965's Ikeya-Seki Comet, according to Biggs.

Northern Hemisphere observers have reported the tail of dust cloud following the comet is especially impressive when viewed through binoculars.

Because of the comet's closeness to the sun, observers are warned never to look directly at the sun with the naked eye or through an optical instrument.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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Small Landing Probes For In-Situ Characterization of Asteroids and Comets
Boulder CL (SPX) Jan 16, 2007
The 2007 American Astronomical Society's annual meeting in Seattle, Jan 5-10, included a poster presentation depicting a small landing probe design developed by Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp and was presented by Dennis Ebbets, Senior Business Development Manager for Ball Aerospace's Space Science division in Boulder, CO.

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