Great comets of the past 50 years

Great comets of the past 50 years

Amongst the most awesome astronomical events to witness are bright naked-eye comets, but they only occur on average around once a decade. Seven comets during the last half century could qualify as "great", all but Comet Ikeya-Seki (1965) having been observed by the speaker. The six that were observed and the years they were most impressive are Bennett (1970), West (1976), Hyakutake (1996), Hale-Bopp (1997), McNaught (2007) and Lovejoy (2011). The talk will discuss just what it means for a comet to be great and how you can maximise your chances of witnessing comets at their very best.

Rob McNaught

About Rob McNaught

A life long amateur astronomer, Rob McNaught started his professional career with a summer job at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh on the same day as his last school exam. Within a fortnight he was a site-tester on Mauna Kea, Hawaii! For the past 30 years he has been a telescope operator and research assistant at Siding Spring Observatory, Australia. He has worked mostly in searching for Near Earth Objects, in the process of which he discovered 82 comets that bear his name. Although not discovering SN1987A, he took the first image of its outburst, but did discover over 50 SNae and a few novae. Working with David Asher he correctly predicted the recent Leonid meteor storms with an accuracy of better than 10 minutes.