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Another New Comet
Another New Comet
7 Aug 2002
(Source: Sky & Telescope)

Another new comet, even brighter than Comet Hoenig (announced last week), can now be seen by observers with large binoculars in the Northern Hemisphere. It is low in the eastern sky around the time morning twilight begins. According to calculations by Brian G. Marsden, published by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams on IAU Circular 7948 (August 3rd), this comet will pass through perihelion around September 9th. It will then be midway between the Earth's orbit and the Sun. This comet is traveling in a near-parabolic orbit inclined 59 degrees to the ecliptic. Further details about the discovery are available from the Central Bureau's subscription service (visit http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/cbat.html). Unfortunately, as this comet gets closer to perihelion its elongation angle from the Sun decreases, making it harder to observe. On August 8th, for example, at the start of morning twilight, the comet is 16 degrees above the eastern horizon for an observer at latitude 40 degrees north. By the 21st it is only 10 degrees above the northeastern horizon as twilight begins. The second and third weeks of August appear to offer the best viewing prospects for this object, which is not likely to become brighter than 6th magnitude. While it carries the designation C/2002 O6, this comet's name has not yet been officially announced. Japanese astronomer Masayuki Suzuki was among the first to spot it on all-sky images taken in late July with the SOHO spacecraft's SWAN solar-wind camera. Unlike the many other SOHO comets, this one was detected 90 degrees from the Sun and is not a Sun-grazer at all. As reported on IAU Circular 7944 (August 1st), Alan Hale in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, confirmed it visually with an 8-inch (20-cm) telescope and J. Broughton in Queensland, Australia, obtained CCD images with a 10-inch reflector. The following ephemeris, based on Marsden's preliminary orbital elements, gives the comet's right ascension and declination (equinox 2000.0) at 0h Universal Time on each date, its distance from the Earth (delta) and Sun (r) in astronomical units (where 1 a.u. is 149,600,000 km), elongation angle, predicted magnitude, and the constellation through which it is passing. Roger W. Sinnott
Senior Editor
Sky & Telescope


COMET 2002 O6 Date R.A. Dec. delta r Elong. Mag. Const. (0h UT) h m o ' a.u. a.u. o
Aug 05 4 39.3 -03 09 0.279 0.942 67 7.0 Eri
Aug 06 4 54.4 +00 33 0.270 0.925 63 6.8 Ori
Aug 07 5 10.5 +04 30 0.263 0.908 59 6.7 Ori
Aug 08 5 27.6 +08 35 0.259 0.891 55 6.6 Ori
Aug 09 5 45.5 +12 42 0.258 0.873 51 6.5 Tau
Aug 10 6 04.1 +16 45 0.259 0.856 47 6.4 Ori
Aug 11 6 23.2 +20 36 0.264 0.839 43 6.3 Gem
Aug 12 6 42.5 +24 10 0.271 0.822 39 6.3 Gem
Aug 13 7 01.7 +27 22 0.281 0.805 37 6.3 Gem
Aug 14 7 20.7 +30 10 0.293 0.789 34 6.3 Gem
Aug 15 7 39.1 +32 33 0.307 0.772 33 6.3 Gem
Aug 16 7 56.7 +34 32 0.323 0.755 31 6.3 Lyn
Aug 17 8 13.4 +36 10 0.341 0.739 30 6.4 Lyn
Aug 18 8 29.1 +37 28 0.361 0.723 30 6.4 Lyn
Aug 19 8 43.7 +38 30 0.381 0.707 30 6.4 Lyn
Aug 20 8 57.2 +39 17 0.403 0.691 30 6.4 Lyn
Aug 21 9 09.7 +39 52 0.426 0.676 30 6.4 Lyn
Aug 22 9 21.1 +40 16 0.450 0.661 30 6.5 Lyn
Aug 23 9 31.6 +40 32 0.474 0.646 30 6.5 Lyn
Aug 24 9 41.1 +40 41 0.499 0.631 30 6.5 Lyn
Aug 25 9 49.8 +40 44 0.525 0.617 30 6.5 LMi
Aug 26 9 57.7 +40 40 0.552 0.604 30 6.5 LMi
Aug 27 10 04.9 +40 33 0.579 0.591 31 6.5 LMi
Aug 28 10 11.5 +40 21 0.606 0.578 31 6.5 LMi
Aug 29 10 17.5 +40 06 0.634 0.566 31 6.5 UMa
Aug 30 10 23.0 +39 47 0.662 0.555 31 6.5 UMa
Aug 31 10 28.0 +39 25 0.691 0.545 31 6.6 UMa
Sep 01 10 32.6 +39 01 0.720 0.535 31 6.6 LMi

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Last Updated: 8 Aug 2002