comet 48-48


This evening (Jan 22nd) the sky was wonderful, crisp, clear and very transparent. Before sunset I decided to walk one mile into the country side outside Maghera and set up my gear on the top of the highest hill around which gave me a terrific panoramic view of the horizon. I watched the beautiful sunset and later the post sunset sky which was tinged yellow with Venus and the crescent moon was a wonderful sight. My plan was to wait until darkness in the hope of making an observation of the tail striations of comet Mc Naught. 20 min's later a large CB cloud topped with an anvil arrived from the north creating overcast conditions followed by heavy falling sleet so I had to give up and walk home while getting soaked to the skin.

However when I arrived home the sky rapidly cleared again so I walked past my house to a distant hill which gave me an excellent view of the S - SW horizon, this was were I made my very first observation of the comet on Jan 9th. After much effort I was rewarded with what must have been the tail striations of this comet. At 18.00 UT despite the weak glow of the moon I could see three straight colourless rays of light extending up through Aquarius with their tips ending within the area of sky SE of Enif in Pegasus. The centre 'ray' was the tallest and brightest reaching at height of 20 degrees above the horizon. I could only see these with averted vision and only obtained fleeting periodic glimpses but I feel certain this must have been the tail striations. I could not see the zodiacal light due to moonlight and suspect that the tail will now be unobservable from now on due to the waxing moon phase.

Martin Mc kenna, Maghera, N. Ireland