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Comet McNaught, also known as the Great Comet of 2007 and given the designation C/2006 P1, is a non-periodic comet discovered on August 7, 2006 by British-Australian astronomer Robert H. McNaught. It was the brightest comet for over 40 years, and was easily visible to the naked eye for observers in the Southern Hemisphere in January and February 2007.
With an estimated peak magnitude of -5.5, the comet was the second brightest since 1935. Around perihelion on January 12, it was visible worldwide in broad daylight. Its tail measured an estimated 35 degrees in length at its peak.
The brightness of C/2006 P1 near perihelion was enhanced by forward scattering.
Comet Holmes (official designation: 17P/Holmes) is a periodic comet in our solar system, discovered by the British amateur astronomer Edwin Holmes on November 6, 1892. Although normally a very faint object, Holmes became notable during its October 2007 return when it temporarily brightened by a factor of about half a million, in what was the largest known outburst by a comet, and became visible to the naked eye. It also briefly became the largest object in the solar system, as its coma (the thin dissipating dust ball around the comet) expanded to a diameter greater than that of the Sun (although its mass remained minuscule).
Comet Lulin (official designation C/2007 N3 (Lulin), is a non-periodic comet. It was discovered by Ye Quanzhi and Lin Chi-Sheng from Lulin Observatory. It peaked in brightness and arrived at perigee for observers on Earth on February 24, 2009, at magnitude +5, and at 0.411 AU from Earth. The comet was near conjunction with Saturn on February 23, and passed near Regulus in the constellation of Leo on February 26 and 27, 2009. It was expected to pass near Comet Cardinal on May 12, 2009. The comet became visible to the naked eye from dark-sky sites around February 7. It passed near the double star Zubenelgenubi on February 6, near Spica on February 15 and 16, near Gamma Virginis on February 19 and near the star cluster M44 on March 5 and 6. It also passed near the planetary nebula NGC 2392 on March 14, and near the double star Wasat around March 17. According to NASA, Comet Lulin's green color comes from a combination of gases that make up its local atmosphere, primarily diatomic carbon, which appears as a green glow when illuminated by sunlight in the vacuum of space.
Comet Hartley 2, designated as 103P/Hartley by the Minor Planet Center, is a small periodic comet with an orbital period of 6.46 years. It was discovered by Malcolm Hartley in 1986 at the Schmidt Telescope Unit, Siding Spring Observatory, Australia. Its diameter is estimated to be 1.2 to 1.6 kilometres (0.75 to 0.99 mi).
Hartley 2 was the target of a flyby of the Deep Impact spacecraft, as part of the EPOXI mission, on November 4, 2010, which was able to approach within 700 kilometers (430 mi) of Hartley 2 as part of its extended mission. As of November 2010 Hartley 2 is the smallest comet which has been visited. It is the fifth comet visited by spacecraft, and the second comet visited by the Deep Impact spacecraft, which first visited Comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005.
Comet Lovejoy, formally designated C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy), is a periodic comet and Kreutz Sungrazer. It was discovered in November 2011 by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy. The comet's perihelion took it through the Sun's corona on 16 December 2011, after which it emerged intact and continued on its orbit to the outer solar system.
As Comet Lovejoy was announced on the 16th anniversary of the SOHO satellite's launch it became known as "The Great Birthday Comet of 2011", and because it was visible from Earth during the Christmas holiday it was also nicknamed "The Great Christmas Comet of 2011".
Comet Garradd is expected to brighten to magnitude 10 at the beginning of July. For southern hemisphere viewers it will then rise in the late evening and be best observed in the morning sky before sunrise. As it brightens further during the following weeks it will also rise earlier to become an evening object by August.
Garrard will be north of the celestial equator and so have only a moderate altitude from New Zealand, getting lower during the following months. By the end of October it will be setting at about 9.30 pm and be very low by the time the sky darken following sunset. It will be lost to view a few days later.
The comet will continue to brighten during the rest of 2011 and into 2012, when it should reach magnitude 7.1 by February. It will also continue to move north, so that by 2012 it will rise only in the extreme north of New Zealand.
The comet was discovered by Gordon Garradd at Siding Spring, Australia in August 2009.