Comet McNaught Video

The fine folks at NASA recently released a very cool video of Comet McNaught. Taken by the STEREO-A spacecraft, this video was assembled from photographs taken on 17 January 2007. The camera is extremely sensitive, and even Venus (lower left) and Mercury (upper right) are bright enough to cause “desaturation streaks.” The head of the comet is quite bright and produces a large amount of desaturation, but once it passes out of the field of view, one can see the beautiful tail.

I really hesitated to upload and post this video. Of course, as a work of NASA, a division of the federal government, it is in the public domain. But the lower resolution really doesn’t do the comet justice. I post this lower-resolution version because I want to make it more accessible, but please, if you are at all interested in this, view one of the higher-resolution versions available at the STEREO web site (or download the highest-quality version, in the Quicktime format). The fine detail in the tail can’t be seen in the version below.

Still, it is amazing, no?