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Comet Cousins
Comet Cousins
28 Aug 2002
(Source: Sky & Telescope)

LINEAR's Comet Cousins

Sky & Telescope Even after discovering more than 80 comets, the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project can still generate some surprises. On the night of August 25th, one of the automated telescopes swept up a pair of faint objects in a single frame of its electronic camera. Separated by about <=?, the call went out from the International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Minor Planet Center for additional observations. The next night, several observers reported seeing comas around the objects. Turns out that these new comets, designated C/2002 Q2 and C/2002 Q3, are related. The two are passing through the solar system in similar parabolic paths. At discovery, the duo were separated in space by about 2 million kilometers. The pair is heading nearly due south, having already come closest to the Sun a week prior to discovery. Brightening to perhaps no more than 17th magnitude in early September, they will remain out of reach for visual observing with most amateur equipment.

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Last Updated: 28 Aug 2002