C / 2006 P1 (McNaught) encountered 122 million kilometers of Earth, making Rob McNaught a star. (Supplied by: Rob McNaught)
Robert H McNaught is in an enviable position where he can close his eyes and determine the greatest moment in his career.
"I dreamed that moment since I was a kid," said a Scottish astronomer, now much better known as the recently retired man of the Australian Observatory Siding Spring.
On the night of January 19, 2007, the man who is now the world's greatest inventor of comets watched one of the brightest comets in the memory of life come to a perfect view of the sky.
"It was the brightest comet in the past 50 years by any astronomer from around the world," he said.
It was so great for the next two days that you saw him with a bare eye in the daylight.
It was "spectacular" at night.
In astronomical sense, McNaught hit the jackpot, and "it was just amazing".
From blob to spectacle
At the end of 2006, McNaught, who is still housed in Coonabarabran in northwestern New South Wales, accidentally discovered a huge ice, gas and dust ball.
"That night I would usually turn off the equipment because of the bright month, but I still noticed," he said that night.
"The software was picked up by a moving object, and that attracted me attention, but at that time there was only a tiny, unusual mud."
The anticipation was built at night as a comet, and then called Comet McNaught 2006 P1, followed the Earth.
The astronomer knew how comet comets were, but he believed this was remarkable.
"One of my colleagues told me that comets like cats – have a tail and do exactly the way they like them!" he said.
The new mural dedicates the discovery of Rob McNaught in his adopted hometown of Coonabarabran. (ABC Westerland Plains: Jessie Davies)
"But when she arrived, she was intensely bright and she exceeded the expectations of all."
Eleven years later, Comet McNaught is the name of a household amongst stargazers.
Bright from the famous Hale comet, his tail grew to hundreds of millions of miles.
Mr. McNaught will keep you on the comet's memory.
"Unless she experiences incredible progress in medical technology on the horizon, we will never see it again, and the next will appear for 93,000 years."
Young Scot in Australia
As a young young man grew up in rural Scotland, McNaught never imagined life for himself in Australia, let alone the small town of Coonabarabran, located at the foot of Mount Varrumbungle and home to the renowned Siding Spring Observatory.
"When I was growing up, everyone had a fire, so I was lucky to have seen more than twenty stars in the sky," he said.
So how did young Scot develop passion for stargazing? Through the magic of the picture book, of course.
"I remember when my seven-year-old friend was my friend and I got rewards for a good school attendance," he said.
"My friend got a book about space, so we changed. Since then I've read everything I could about astronomy."
After finishing school, Mr. McNaught enrolled in an astronomy degree at the university.
But the accident hit her. He hated him.
"I had absolutely horrible ratings and I thought I spent every single time, so I left astronomy," he said.
However, he achieved a gradual degree of psychology, and within a few months after finishing, he sent a job with a satellite tracking telescope, bringing him to Australia.
During his permanent 30-year career, Mr. McNaught discovered more than 80 comets.
"All my career had a strong obsession in the astronomical discovery, and for some time I discovered a comet about every six weeks, including three in 24 hours," he said.
A day in the life of a comet hunter
After spending three decades exploring the dark night, Mr. McNaught can feel the number of shifting jobs on his body.
Five years in retirement, he can only manage to sleep for several hours at the same time.
"My sleep condition is essentially ruined," he said.
During his lifetime, his working day begins at dusk.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner would lead in the "evening hours" of the night, often while he was at work, watching the night sky selection.
A telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran was a g. McNaught for decades. (Delivered: ANU)
On a clean winter night, shifts would often extend to 12 hours.
Mr. McNaught said there was no rest for evil, even for the cloudy nights.
"You'll always find a job – whether it's maintaining, writing, or updating the software," he said.
Science and Technology,