Comet Discoverers

2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014

Last update: April - 2014

This page was initially created by Juan José González - José Fernández, written in Spain and can be found at

I also used information from the website of Maik Meyer.

I used an automatic translation into English and tried to correct it into readable English. Please notice that English is not my native language.

Fell free sending me corrections of any kind.

The automated professional programs LINEAR, NEAT, CSS, LONEOS, Spacewatch (North Hemisphere) and Siding Spring (South Hemisphere), are responsible for the the majority of comet findings in recent years, besides the carried out ones found on the images of the SOHO spacecraft.

But there are still opportunities for amateur astronomers to find comets, searching visual or with the help of digital cameras (CCD or DSLR).

Of 193 discovered comets in 2003, only one was made by an amateur astronomer, Vello Tabur: C/2003 T3.

  In 2004, with a total of 222 discoveries, 3 were discovered by amateurs:

  Unfortunately, 2004 was also the year of the death of Fred Whipple, a great researcher in cometary science, and discoverer of 6 comets.

  In 2005, with a total of 221 discoveries,  2 were discovered by amateurs:

  In 2006, with a total of 204 discoveries, 2 were discovered by amateurs: 

  In 2007, with a total of 223 discoveries, 3new comets were found by amateurs:

  In 2008, with a total of 219 discoveries, 5 amateurs were able to find new comets:

  In 2009, with a total of 227 discoveries, 5 comets were found by amateurs:

  2009 has been the year of the death of two outstanding members of the cometary community, Eleanor Helin, great pioneer of the PCAS and NEAT programs, and Charles Juels, prolific asteroid discoverer. Also, it is sad to notify the loss of comet discoverer  Mauro Vittorio Zanotta, in an unfortunate alpine accident.

In 2010, with a total of 157 discoveries, 6 comets were found by amateurs:

It was also the year were the cometary community lost Brian Geoffrey Marsden.

In 2011, with a total of 48 discoveries, 5 comets were found by amateurs:
In 2011, the discoverer of 4 periodic comets, Tom Gehrels passed away.


In 2012 62 new comets were discovered, 8 comets were found by amateurs.

In 2013 65 new comets were discovered. It was a great year for amateurs. 14 new comets were found by amateurs, all with CCD or DSLR cameras.
In 2014, the discoverer of 2 comets, Albert Jones passed away.


Edgar Wilson Award


Fred Whipple (1906 - 2004)

(Image: Harvard-Smithsonian for Center Astrophysics.)

Born in Network Oak (Iowa, the USA), he directed the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory between 1955 and 1973. He was an outstanding figure of Astronomy in the 20th. century, that mainly will be remembered by its dedication to the investigation on comets. The model of the “dirty snow ball proposed in 1950” (“dirty snowball”, or more correctly “icy conglomerate”) for the cometary nuclei.

  He was the discoverer (or codiscoverer) of 6 comets between 1932 and 1942, among them 36P/Whipple, of period 8,5 years, and it's recent return happened in 2003.


C/2003 T3 - Vello Tabur

[Images: Vello Tabur , by Reinder Bouma (2003); C/2003 T3 near the galaxy NGC 6848, image CCD of V. Tabur, on October 18th. 2003, a few days after the discovery of the comet]

C/2003 T3 has been the third comet discovery by another Australian observer, Vello Tabur. The comet was found on CCD images taken on October 14th., at 11. magnitude. It  reached maximum magnitude (approximately 9.5) in the days near the perihelion, April 28th, q= 1,48 AU of the Sun.


William Bradfield - C/2004 F4

[Images: William Bradfield, by Reinder Bouma (2003); C/2004 F4 in its perihelion on April 17th 2004, SOHO (THAT & NASA (2004)].

William Bradfield discovered C/2004 F4, his 18th comet visually, on 23rd of March 2004, shortly before perihelion (April 17th.), at 0,17 AU. The proximity to the Sun allowed to observe spectacular images of the passage thanks to coronograph LASCO - C3 on the SOHO satellite. For the ground observers, it later reappeared some days in the matutinal twilight, as an object of 3rd magnitude, very condensed and with a long almost vertical tail, offering an unforgettable view. This one has been the third visual observed comet in 2004, after C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) and C/2002 T7 (LINEAR). The very special of this discovery was the time, which was dominated by the LINEAR, NEAT and other survey's and gives an extra profit to Bradfield, a great Australian veteran discoverer of 76 years.

Comet Seeking (William Bradfield, in the page of the ASSA).


Roy Tucker - C/2004 Q1

Roy Tucker (Goodricke-Pigott Observatory, Tucson, USA) discovered his comet on CCD images taken on August 23rd. with a reflecting telescope of 0,35 m, considering a coma diameter of 50 ", a tail length of 70 " and 14.6 magnitude. The preliminary orbital elements  provided q = 2,0 AU, perihelion on December 7th.

The story of the discovery appeared in A/CC Major News About Minor Objects:

Bits of luck, Roy Tucker





1 - Roy Tucker

2 - Triple telescope of 35 cm of the Goodricke-Pigott Observatory.

3 - C/2004 Q1 in Cetus, one of the images of the series of the discovery, obtained on August 23rd. The comet was estimated visually ~13.0. The star shining outside the left edge of the field, SAO 110700, has magnitude 8.2.


Donald Machholz - C/2004 Q2 - C/2010 F4

[Images: Donald Machholz, next to the telescope used for the discovery, image taken on August 29th. by its son, Mark Machholz; C/2004 Q2, image CCD obtained by Michael Mattiazzo on November 16th.

Donald Machholz (Colfax, California, USA), like Bradfield, is another prolific discoverer. He found his 10th comet, C/2004 Q2, visual with a reflector of 0,15 m at 30x, on August 27th. It was magnitude 11.2 and had a coma of 2 '. C/2004 Q2 would pass perihelion on the 24th of January 2005 with q = 1,2 AU. It was expected that the comet would reach 3 mag. in January.

A personal commentary on its discovery appeared on August 29th. in the comets-ml of Yahoo:

“… It was only yesterday morning when I found the comet but much has happened since then.

I began comet hunting on Jan 1st, 1975, and for nearly 30 years I've done some comet hunting every month. At the time I found this comet I had searched 7046 hours, 1457 since my previous find, in 1994, when I found three comets in four months.When I found this latest one I was on my back deck, using my 6 " (15cm) Criterion Dynascope (purchased in 1968). I used a 2 " ED eyepiece pressed to over the focussing I had, yielding 30x and a field of view of about 2 degrees. This is the same setup I use for my Messier Marathons, and I used it last March to find all 110 objects by memory in one night. I'm very comfortable with it. I uses it on my back deck from Time to 10 Time to compliment the " reflector and 5 " homemade binoculars I have in my observatory 30 meters from my house. With the 6 " in the deck I dog see down to -45 degrees declination. Is had covered some of the southern sky on Aug 25, then went back out on Aug 27 to cover dwells sky, working my way eastward to after each N-S sweep.

We will just have to wait and see what the comet actually does. After I reported the discovery it is out of my hands. I take not credit for what it does, whether it fizzles, or brightens a lot or it hits some habited planetary body! We all are now observers … “

Details about this discovery can be found on his webpage.

C/2010 F4


[Images: Donald Machholz, next to the telescope used in the discovery, C/2010 F4 in CCD image obtained by Ramon Naves on 27 March at 4h00 UT].

The IAUC 9132 of March 26, 2010 reported the discovery of a new comet made ​​visually by Donald Machholz on March 23rd. with a 0.47 m reflector 77x. with magnitude 11 and a coma of 2 '. The discovery was confirmed on Mar. 26th by itself, at a position indicative of a rapid movement towards the Sun, and later by other observers. Preliminary parabolic orbital elements of C/2010 F4  (Machholz) appeared on MPEC 2010-F88 on the 27th, showing perihelion on April 5th at the distance q = 0.61 AU.
This is the 11th. visual comet discovery for Machholz, who had searched 607 hours since his last discovery C/2004 Q2. Also, this is the first visual comet discovery after 2006. (IAUC 9127 (subscription required). (Maik Meyer

From the comets-ml:

Thanks for all of the kind words about this comet discovery. The search for this comet was typical, I do a bit more than 100 hours a year of visual searching, but the discovery was unusual in that it took three days to get it confirmed.
This is mainly due to the fact that I could not detect certain motion in the 15 minutes that I had the comet on the discovery morning. Then I had bad weather for the next two days. Meanwhile, its rapid motion prevented it from being picked up by others.

Later this weekend I'll be writing a more full story than is on, and by next week you can find it there and download it too.

As you know, the comet is faint, and will not be easy to see in the days ahead.

Take care.

Don Machholz
Colfax, CA

John Broughton - P/2002 T5 - C/2006 OF2

[Images: left, John Broughton, next to the telescope used in the discovery of P/2004 T5; right: the weak comet in one of the CCD images that confirmed the finding, obtained by Robert McNaught with the 1 m telescope on October 24th. from Siding Spring,  showing a small coma of 2" strongly condensed with a weak tail].

P/2002 T5

John Broughton (Reedy Creek, Queensland, Australia) discovered the periodic comet P/2005 T5 on CCD images obtained on October 9th. (magnitude 18,5) with a reflector of 0,51 m, which was confirmed by other observers. The object was also found in previous images (26th of August, Siding Spring Survey, and later ones of LINEAR). The P/2005 T5 passed perihelion on November 3rd. at a distance of q=3.2 AU, with P=19.5 years.


C/2006 OF2

On July 17th. 2006, initially supposed as asteroidal object found in images CCD taken by John Broughton with a reflector of 0,25 m, and its cometary nature was later confirmed by Carl Hergenrother in CCD images obtained on September 20th. and 26th. (magnitude 18) with the Catalina 1,5 m Kuiper telescope. C/2006 OF2 will pass perihelion on September 15th. 2008 at a distance of q=2.4 AU.

The comet was visually observed for a long period, reaching maximum of brightness between September 2008 and January 2009, within magnitude 9,8 - 10.5.

Robert McNaught - C/2006 P1

Detailed information on this impressive comet can be found on, the Great Comet of 2007:

C/2006 P1 (McNaught)


C/2006 P1 (McNaught), 20 January 2007

Siding Spring Observatory, Australia

Robert McNaught

Robert McNaught next to the Uppsala telescope of 0,5 m which was used for the discovery of comet C/2006 P1

Siding Spring Observatory, Australia

Robert McNaught


On September 1st. 2009, IAUC 9070 informed about the discovery of a new comet by Robert McNaught, on CCD images obtained on August 31st.  (magnitude 17) with the 0,5m Schmidt  telescope of Siding Spring. The preliminary elements of C/2009 Q5 (McNaught) appeared in MPEC 2009-R02, with q=1.6 AU and perihelion on March 11th. 2010.

This comet is number 50 of this great observer, in a splendid series of comet discoveries in which it emphasizes the Great Comet of 2007, C/2006 P1 (McNaught).

(Later, MPEC 2009-R31 offered improved elliptical orbital elements for P/2009 Q5 (McNaught), that has turned out to be of short period, according to which the comet would pass perihelion on the 8th of September 2009 with q=2.9 AU, an  P=21 years. ).


P/2009 Q5 (McNaught) in Sculptor, 27th September 2009.

(The comet, located in the center of the image, of almost stellar appearance, was estimated visually m1~15.2. The star located in the right part of the image, TYC 6426-2456-1, has magnitude 12.1)

Telescope 500 mm + CCD

Claudine Rinner and Francois Kugel


David Levy - P/2006 T1

IAUC 8757 on the October 3rd. communicated the discovery of a new comet, C/2006 T1 (Levy). The object was found visually on  October 2nd.  (magnitude 10,5) with a reflector of 0,41 m, near the planet Saturn, and is number 22nd from David Levy (Jarnac Observatory, Tucson, Arizona, USA). The discovery was later confirmed by other observers with CCD and visually. CCD images obtained 3 days later by Peter Birtwhistle (telescope of 0,40 m, Great Shefford, Berkshire, U.K.) showed a round 4.5' coma and a of 14 ' long tail. The comet was also observed visually by Alan Hale on October 6th. with a reflector of 0,41 m (Cloudcroft, New Mexico, USA), with a total magnitude of 9.8. The preliminary orbital elements appeared in the MPEC 2006-T21, the comet would pass perihelion on the October 9th. 2006 with a distance q=1.1 AU.

A story of the discovery appeared in the News from of Sky & Telescope:

The MPEC 2006-T47 (7th of October) offered improved elliptical orbital elements, that confirmed to be of short period, according to which it would pass perihelion on the same day of the MPEC, 7th of October, at a distance q=0.99 AU, with P=5.4 years.

P/2006 T1 (Levy) in LEO, near Saturn, 3rd of Oct. 2006

(The comet was visually m1=9.4, showing a fine ionic tail of 10'. The star in the right edge of the image, GSC-1410-0382, has magnitude 13.6)

Image: SCT 406 mm + CCD,

Peter Birtwhistle, Great Shefford Observatory (Berkshire, U.K. )


 David Levy, Wendee Levy, Tom Glinos - P/2010 E2 (Jarnac)

An apparently asteroidal object discovered by D. H. Levy, W. Levy, and T. Glinos on Mar. 9, 2010, using a 64-cm reflector at Jarnac Observatory (Vail) has been found to be cometary after posting on the NEO Confirmation Page. D. Chestnov and A. Novichonok (remotely from Tzec Maun Observatory near Mayhill) and W. H. Ryan and E. V. Ryan (Magdalena Ridge) reported about the cometary appearance of the 18.5m object. The MPC was also able to link observations of the Mt. Lemmon Survey obtained on Feb. 17, 2010. The orbit for comet P/2010 E2 (Jarnac) shows perihelion on Apr. 7, 2010, at about 2.4 AU. The period is about 25.3 years. This is the first amateur discovery in 2010, and the 23rd comet for Levy. (IAUC 9125, MPEC 2010-E64).  (Maik Meyer

Image: Confirmation image

Terry Lovejoy - C/2007 E2 - C/2007 K5 - C/2011 W3 - C/2013 R1

[Images: Left, Terry Lovejoy, with its Canon cameras 350D and 300D used for the discoveries of C/2007 E2 and C/2007 K5. Right: the C/2007 E2 in one of the images of the discovery, obtained by Lovejoy on March 15th. In this image, with the North to the left, the comet was considered visually m1=9.5. The bright star at the left edge of the image, SAO 246725, has magnitude 6.5]

C/2007 E2

Terry Lovejoy (Thornlands, Queensland, Australia) discovered the comet in images obtained on the March 15th. (magnitude 10) with a Canon camera 350D + telephoto lens 200 mm f/2.8, in which it showed an outstanding central condensation and a coma of 4 ' with characteristic greenish color. The discovery was visually confirmed by John Drummond (Gisborne, New Zealand) on the 16th. with a 0,41m  telescope and magnitude 9.5.

IAUC 8820 offers additional information on C/2007 E2 (Lovejoy), for which new astrometry (MPEC 2007-F32) allows to calculate orbital elements, according to which the comet will pass perihelion on March 27th. 2007 at a distance of q=1.1 AU. In the last days of April it will have it's maximum approach to the Earth, 0,4 AU, being able to reach magnitude 7-8,  observable in good conditions from the North Hemisphere.

A personal commentary on its discovery appeared the March 17th.  in the Comets-ml of Yahoo:

“Is use Digitalis SLR doubles bed to image the sky, and then process the images using IRIS then examines them using the blink technique on to computer monitor. After to very intensifies search effort in 2006 without success (one to near miss with C/2006 M4), I had wound back my efforts in 2007 (partly because of C/2006 P1 and partly because of tires). March 15 was only the second Time this to year I had donates any searches in the morning sky. While downloading images from the double bed on March 15 Is noticed to cometary object AT the edge of 16 raw images centred AT RA 20h57m DEC -51d 18m made between 17h22m and 17h46m UT. Normally, the raw unprocessed images show only the brightest objects under I was very suprised that this could sees an undiscovered comet. AT first I though it was simply to bright deep sky object, but to after processing the intensifies telltale green hue and generally morphology strongly suggested comet. Additionally, blinked when I the processed images it showed small but to clear motion. Astrometry quickly revealed not known object in that location. At this point I was very sure I had something:)

For The following day there was an agonising wait cometrise (about midnight from my location) and I notified to number of people for followup observations. John Drummond being located to further east had the first opportunity to see the comet. Sure enough John phoned me to confirm the existence of the comet around 11pm local Time. Its first Time I have spoken to John and what to way to introduces yourself! 16 UT give to Green contacted annoys on to me March to advise me that the comet had been announced, but ace Rep standard procedure the comet would not sees named until an orbit was calculated and it was determined the comet was not an existing named one.

All told I estimate I have examined about 1000 image fields since annoys 2004, which would equate to about 1000 hours (it takes me 10 you make a draft to actually examines an image, but there plows to other Time consuming tasks like setup/development/identifying suspect objects, etc). Unfortunately I don't keep record on Time taken and images examined.

Rob McNaught informs me that unusually cloudy to weather there are severly hampered coverage of the Siding Springs survey. Additionally, I also checked SWAN this morning and the last posted image is February 18. Visual Moonlight problably explained why observers hadn't got to the comet first… “


C/2007 K5

- May. 29 - IAUC 8840 reported the discovery of a comet, 2007 K5, by Terry Lovejoy in images obtained  May26th. (magnitude 13) taken with a Canon camera 300D + telephoto lens 200 mm, f/2.8, in which it showed one comma of 1 ' with characteristic blue-greenish color. John Drummond (Gisborne, New Zealand) confirmed the discovery on CCD images obtained on May 28th., Robert McNaught (telescope of 0,5 m, Siding Spring, Australia) obtained astrometríc data on May 29th. Orbital parameters are not facilitated, but the IAUC provides astrometry of the images of Lovejoy, Drummond and McNaught.

- May. 31 - the MPEC 2007-K80 offers improved parabolic orbital elements of C/2007 K5 (Lovejoy), according to which the comet passed perihelion on April 26th. 2007 with a distance q=1.1 AU.

Terry also commented its new discovery on May 30th. in the Comets-ml of Yahoo:

“… After to discovering Comet C/2007 E2 on March 15 this to year, I a.m. happy to report finding to another Comet just 2 months to later! Naturally I a.m. elated, especially since this one was to much to tougher and challenging find, proving my techniques plows working.

Particular This comet (designated C/2007 K5) was found ace to small faint but still to rather obvious blue-green haze in my images from the evening of May 26. Initial My estimate is mag 13, but I admit I have not attempted dwells needs photometry and visually the comet could well sees brighter. Interestingly the discovery was made during to bright waxing moon and in the evening sky where moderate light pollution prevails. On the evening I had both doubles bed (to Canon 300D + Canon 350D) mounted the usual way with the 300D pointed towards -18 declination and the 350D pointed towards declination -11. This allows me to image 13 degree wide sweep of sky from west to east. Individual Some 12 starfields were covered with both doubles bed, with 12 subexposures of 90 seconds for each starfield.

The following day, I downloaded the images from my 300D and ran them through the usual automated processing steps (IRIS is used for this). This processing step outputs 2 images Rep starfield effectively separated by 10 you make a draft under that moving objects like comets dog sees identified. By “blinking” the 2 images one dog see objects like asteroids and comets bobbing backwards and forwards. On examining the first image I almost immediately noticed to moving small hazy object with to distinctive blue green colour typical of many comets. For I knew I had something sure, and notified to number of to other for confirmation of to possible comet.

Confirmation Comecon on May 28 when both John Drummond and I made followup observations, which were then sent to Dan Green AT CBAT. Further followup was obtained on May 29 by Rob circular McNaught before an official (IAUC 8840) announced the new comet ace C/2007 K5. Interesting, C/2007 K5 required less than 20 hours of present searching in contrast to the estimated 1400 hours for C/2007 E2.

The comet itself appears to sees clears faint, and will problably remain that way, but to comet none-the-less. Further eleven astrometry is require to calculate an orbit and this is donates the comet will sees named. “

C/2007 K5 (Lovejoy) in Lepus, two of the images of the discovery, 26 and 28 of May of 2007

(Images with North to the right. The comet was magnitude 13. The bright star of the right field, SAO 151019 has magnitude 8.4)

exhibitions: 12 90 xs seg, 400 ISO, Canon 300D, objective 200 mm, 200 mm to f/2.8

(Terry Lovejoy, Australia)

C/2011 W3

C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy): Discovered on 2011 Nov. 27, by Terry Lovejoy using a 0.2-m reflector and CCD in the course of his routine comet searching from Thornlands, Australia. This is his third comet discovery. The comet is a member of the Kreutz group but seems intrinsically faint. Thus a bright comet at perihelion or a survival of it seems questionable. The comet will remain a southern hemisphere object close to the sun. At discovery it was at 13m, q=0.005 AU, T=2011 Dec. 16. CBET 2931, MPEC 2011-X16 (Maik Meyer

Copyright: Amy & Sarah Lovejoy

Discovery images. Copyright © 2011 by Terry Lovejoy (Thornlands, Queensland, Australia)

A great site showing the appearance of this Great Comet can be found at

Copyright © 2011 by Vello Tabur (Michelago, New South Wales, Australia)

Quanzhi Ye - C/2007 N3

[Images: Left, Quanzhi Ye, in the Lulin Observatory. Right: C/2007 N3 in Aquarius, discovery images obtained on July 11th.

An apparently asteroidal object (magnitude 19) was found by Quanzhi Ye (Guangzhou, China), on images obtained on July 11th by Chi Sheng Lin (Institute of Astronomy, Central National University, Jung-Li, Taiwan) during the Lulin Sky Survey (telescope of 0,41 m, Lulin Observatory, Taiwan), and his cometary nature was perceived in CCD images obtained on July 17th by James Young (telescope of 0,61 m, Table Mountain Observatory, California, USA). The preliminary orbital elements of C/2007 N3 (Lulin) appeared in the MPEC 2007-O05, according to which the comet would pass perihelion one January 7th 2009 in a perihelion distance q=1.2 AU. The date of the perihelion settled down later on January 10th.


It reached maximum brightness in the last week of February, its approach to the Earth (0,41 AU day 24): J.J. Gonzalez, from Leon, reported m1=4.8 on Feb. 23rd, with a coma of 30 '; observing (in binoculars 10x50) 1.5º long ion tail and 1.5º dust tail.

C/2007 N3 in Libra, 5 February 2009

[The comet was estimated visually  m1 ~6,0, with its characteristics tail and antitail].

Image: Telescope 200 mm + CCD, taken by Michael Jäger


Tao Chen and Xing Gao - C/2008 C1

[Images: Left, Tao Chen; right: Xing Gao, in the Xingming Observatory. Center: the C/2008 C1 in one of the images of the series of the discovery, obtained on February 2nd. The comet was estimated visually m1~13.0. The brightest star of the field SAO 20455, has magnitude 8.1]


According to the report of Jin Beize (Peking Technology and Business University, China), the comet was found by Tao Chen (Suzhou, Jiangsu) in an CCD image obtained February 1st. 2008 (magnitude 13) and by Xing Gao (Urumqi, Xinjiang) with a telephoto lens of 7 cm, focal length 200mm, to f/2.8, and Canon camera 350D, in Xingming Observatory, TM. Nanshan, during a search program of Novas. The comet was also found in previous images obtained by Gao January 30th. and 31st. (mag. 14.0 and 13,5), and on February 2nd (mag. 12.0). Later, the discovery was confirmed in images obtained by numerous observers worldwide. It was also observed visually by Alan Hale (USA) in m1=13.1. The preliminary orbital elements appeared in the MPEC 2008-C16, with q=1.3 AU and perihelion on April 17th.  being able to reach magnitude 11.


Rui Yang and Xing Gao - P/2009 L2

Rui Yang (Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China) identified the comet in CCD images obtained June 15th. (magnitude 14) by Xing Gao with a telephoto lens of 10,7 cm (diameter) at f/2.8, and Canon camera 350D, in the Xingming Observatory, during its search program for comets. The discovery was later confirmed by other observers.

The preliminary orbital elements appeared in the MPEC 2009-M05, with q=1.3 AU, with a perihelion on May 19th. and P=6.6 years, being 0,32 AU from Earth on the day of the discovery.

[Images: Left, Rui Yang; right: the P/2009 L2 in an section of one of the images of the series of the discovery, obtained June 15th. The comet was estimated m1~13.0. The brightest star in the field, SAO 161246, has magnitude 8.6]

One of the discovery images of the P/2009 L2, obtained by Xing Gao, 19:51 UT on June 15th, showing a region of the Milkyway between Serpens and Sagittarius. The position of the comet is indicated in the lower left corner. 


Robert Holmes - C/2008 N1

[Images: Left, Robert Holmes. Center: the C/2008 N1 in Pegasus, one of the discovey images. Right: 0,61m telescope of the Astronomical Research Observatory]


An apparently asteroidal object (magnitude 20) was found on CCD images taken July 1st. by Robert Holmes, obtained with a 0,61m telescope (Astronomical Research Observatory, Charleston, Illinois, USA), and its cometary nature was found on CCD images obtained on July 4th. by Peter Birtwhistle (0,40 m telescope, Great Shefford, U.K.), and on July 5th. by other observers. The preliminary orbital elements of C/2008 N1 (Holmes) appeared in the MPEC 2008-N19, showing a perihelion on September 24th. 2009 at q=2.8 AU.

A story and images of the discovery can be found on the pages of the observatory:


Stanislav Maticic - C/2008 Q1

[Images: Left, Stanislav Maticic next to the 0,60m Cichocki telescope of the Crni Vrh Observatory; right: the C/2008 Q1 in Draco, one of the discovery images.]

The stellar object at magnitude 17,8 was found on CCD images taken August 18th, under strong lunar interference, by Stanislav Maticic, with a robotic 0,60m telescope, during the search program PIKA of comets and asteroids developed at the Crni Vrh Observatory (Slovenia), and its cometary nature was found by Herman Mikuz on images on the 19th obtained with the same telescope, confirming itself later by other observers. It is the first comet discovery from Crni Vrh. The preliminary orbital elements appeared in the MPEC 2008-Q12, showing a perihelion on January 2nd. 2009 with a distance of q=2.9 AU. Later astrometry improved the orbital elements, with a perihelion on December 30th 2008.

Herman Mikuz wrote the following describing the circumstances of the discovery:

Stanislav Maticic discovered comet C/2008 Q1 (Maticic) in the course of the Crni Vrh Observatory Asteroid and Comet Search program PIKA, on August 18, 2008. A new comet ( first comet discovery from Crni Vrh Observatory ) was automatically detected on images taken between Aug. 18.81364 UT and 18.84247 UT with the 0.60-m f/3.3 Cichocki Sky Survey Telescope. Discovery images were taken in moonlight conditions ( two days after the Full Moon ). In such conditions, the object cometary appearance was not evident until next evening, August 19, when the confirmation images were obtained in much darker sky conditions. Further inspection of series of 1 minute unfiltered followup exposures obtained with the same telescope around Aug. 19.816 UT show that this object has diffuse appearance ( coma diameter ~10 arc sec ) with strong condensation. After being posted on NEO Confirmation Page, additional measurements were obtained by several observatories. The discovery was announced in IAU Circular 8966. Complete observations and preliminary parabolic orbit were published in MPEC 2008-Q12.


Michel Ory - P/2008 Q2





1 - Michel Ory and the Observatoire Astronomique Jurassien (Vicques, Switzerland).

2 - P/2008 Q2 in Piscis, discovery image, obtained August 27th, 22h32 UT. The comet was estimated magnitude 17,6.]

3 - Michel Ory with the telescope Bernard Comte of 61 cm.


Michel Ory (Delemont, Switzerland) discovered the object, initially asteroidal of magnitude 17,6, on images CCD taken August 27th. 2008 with the telescope Bernard Comte (0,61 m) of the Observatoire Astronomique Jurassien in Vicques. The cometary nature the P/2008 Q2 was perceived in CCD images taken on the 28th. by several observers, among others: A. Knoefel (telescope of 0,5 m, Schoenbrunn, Germany), L. Buzzi (telescope of 0,60 m, Varese, Italy), A.C. Gilmore and P.M. Kilmartin (telescope of 1 m, Mount John University Observatory, New Zealand). The preliminary elliptical orbital elements appeared in the MPEC 2008-Q51, according to which the comet would pass  perihelion on October 23rd. 2008 with a distance q=1.4 UA, and P=6.0 years.

Later astrometry allowed improved orbital elements, according to which the comet would pass the perihelion on October 19th. 2008, distance q=1.38 AU, with P=5.8 years.


Eleanor Helin (1932 - 2009)

Eleanor Helin, born Eleanor Kay Francis (Pasadena, USA) was one of the most outstanding figures in the study of NEO's, in which she began when another great pioneer, Eugene Shoemaker, California Institute of Technology was gotten up in 1969 to California Institute, in which Helin worked in projects of Geology and Planetary Scientist. From the collaboration of both the PCAS (Palomar Planet Crossing Asteroid Survey) in 1973 arose, program predecessor of NEAT (Near Earth Asteroid Tracking), been born in 1995 under the cover of the NASA and the JPL programs where Helin was the main investigator. Then, in the beginning of the 90s, the photographic plates progressively were replaced by the more effective CCD.

The Fast-Moving Object Helin 1976 AA, (2062) Aten, was the first asteroid with an orbital semiaxis (a = 0,967 UA) smaller than the one of the Earth, being the prototype of the NEO family. It was inevitable that, in its long years of fruitful search, Helin would discover several comets. First C/1977 H1 (Helin), which would follow others more (with the aid of assistants like Brian Roman, Randy Crockett, Jeff Alu and Ken Lawrence), among them was 1977e = some of short period, like 111P, 117P, 132P, 151P and 152P.

In words of Alain Maury (in mpml), “… not only was she one of the 3 pioneers (if you count Gene Shoemaker and Tom Gehrels), but she tried very hard getting others to observes NEO's. She collaborated with many observatories worldwide trying to get them to make their own survey. She has been a good ambassador of JPL around the world. Behind every working survey there are great people ..., and Glo was one of the top one, starting with films on the 18inch at Palomar to the era of digitized surveys. She was hard working, and earned her place fighting for it.

(A more complete biographical reference has been realised by Brian Marsden, International Comet Quarterly, 31, pp. 3-4, 2009).

Charles Juels (1944 - 2009) and Paulo Holvorcem - C/2002 Y1 - C/2005 N1

Paulo Holvorcem (left) and Charles Juels in Arizona, 2001 (Image: Chris Holvorcem)

Charles Juels, born in New York and doctor of profession, dedicated with intensity his efforts to Astronomy, being a prolific asteroid discoverer, 316, of which 134 along with Paulo Holvorcem (Brazil). In the cometary field, the successful team  Juels  - Holvorcem will be remembered by two interesting discoveries, C/2002 Y1 and C/2005 N1.

C/2002 Y1

It was discovered on CCD in images taken on December 28th. 2002 (magnitude 15) by means of a refractor of 0,12 m from Fountain Hills, Arizona. The  preliminar parabolic orbital elements showed perihelion on April 10th. 2003 with a distance q=0.67 AU (IAUC 8039).

Later astrometry allowed to obtain improved elliptical orbital elements, according to which the comet would pass the perihelion on April 13th. to the distance q=0.71 UA, with e=0.997. The comet came near to the visual magnitude m1=6.0 near perihelion.

C/2002 Y1 in Berenices Comma, one of the images of the series of the discovery. The comet was estimated magnitude 15,1 CCD. Comparing, the star most shining of the central part of the field, TYC 1458-120-1, has magnitude 8.8.

A personal story of Paulo Holvorcem on the discovery appeared in the list Minor Planet List Mailing - mpml of Yahoo, of which the following text has been abstracted:

  “Me and Charles collaborate over the Internet, with the help of “fast” ADSL Internet connections, which makes it easy to communicate and transfer images in near-real time between Fountain Hills (near Phoenix, Arizona) and my home in Campinas, Brazil. From here I do schedule search and follow-up runs at Fountain Hills using software I wrote for this purpose (or planned by Charles), and we split the tasks of data analysis by transferring images over the Internet. The astrometric observations from codes 926, 848, and 860, which you see in MPECs are obtained in an analogous way. These days I hardly leave my house to observe!

  We were very lucky to find C/2002 Y1 on the first night with the new 0.12-m refractor on an automated mount. For some time we had considered the idea of doing wide-field searches new “bright” objects, and this was our first experiment. The field of view is about 2,3 x 2,3 degrees. On that first night (Dec. 28th.) we searched some 300 square degrees and were surprised to find an object of apparently diffuse appearance. On the discovery images and few others taken for follow-up on the same night suggested a coma about 1,8 ' in diameter, which we didn't immediately report (it seemed too much luck, maybe it was not real). But we reported the positions immediately to the MPC, which posted the object (as HJ0080 then referred to) on the NEOCP. It was soon confirmed by others, so we were sure that it was real. Real as it was, then the co-addition of the images showed that it was a comet. Then we reported the detection of the coma on Dec. 29th., and soon afterwards the comet was announced on an IAUC and to MPEC.”


C/2005 N1

It was discovered by Charles Juels and Paulo Holvorcem on images CCD obtained on July 2nd. (magnitude 14,6) by means of a refractor of 0,07 m from Fountain Hills, having located also in some of his previous images (June 30th. and July 1st.). The preliminary orbital parabolic elements showed perihelion August 21st. to the distance q=1.1 UA (IAUC 8557). 

Later astrometry made show perihelion the date on August 22nd., at q=1.1 AU, with e=0.998. Its maximum of brightness reached magnitude m1=11.2 shortly after the perihelion.

C/2005 N1 in Perseus, in one of the images of the series of the discovery, being considered magnitude 14,6.  The brightest star of the field, SAO 56296, has magnitude 6.7.


Koichi Itagaki - C/2009 E1






1 - Koichi Itagaki and the 21 cm telescope used for the discovery, Takanezawa.

2 - Quarter of control of the observatory.

3 - The C/2009 E1 in one of the images of the series of the discovery obtained by Itagaki.

 4 - Confirmation image, obtained March 15th. by Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero and Paul Camilleri. The comet was considered visually then in m1=9.6 at first. Comparativily, brightes star in the edge superior of the field, SAO 110737, has magnitude 9.5


Koichi Itagaki (Yamagata, Japan) found the comet on images taken March 14th. with of a telescope of 0,21 m located in Takanezawa, using software for the automatic detection of moving objecs designed by Hiroshi Kaneda. Deduced CCD magnitude of the images was 12.8. Juan Jose González realised a visual confirmation from Leon the same day, considering his magnitude in m1=9.6, with a coma of 4,5 ', authenticated confirmation on the 15th. by other observers using CCD images. Michal Kusiak (Observatory of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland) informed that the comet was visible in the Lyman images alpha of the ultraviolet phantom of hydrogen obtained by instrument SWAN of space mission SOHO, considering an approximated total magnitude of 11. The preliminary orbital elements calculated by Syuichi Nakano appeared in the CBET 1721, according to which the comet would pass the perihelion on April 7th. 2009 at a distance of q=0.61 AU.

Later astrometry allowed to obtain improved elliptical orbital elements, with e=0.985.


Dae-a.m. Yi - C/2009 F6



C/2009 F6 in a field of Cassiopeia, April 7th. 2009, image of Michael Jaeger. The comet was considered visually then in m1 ~8,1, with a coma of 7 '. The brightest star of the field, in the edge inferior of the image, is SAO 35961, of magnitude 7.7.


IAUC 9034 of April 6th. announced the discovery of a new comet, C/2009 F6. The presence of an ultraviolet object in images of instrument SWAN of space mission SOHO, was detected on March 29th. and later by Robert Matson (Californian, USA), who asked for days 4 and of April to several 5 observers the confirmation of the possible comet. In response to the request of Matson, Juan Jose González could realise a visual confirmation on April 6th. (6,15 UT) from Burgos, considering one m1=8.2 and coma of 6 ' using a reflector of 15 cm, and m1=8.1 with binoculars 25x100. After its publication in the NEOCP, numerous observers confirmed it.

IAUC 9035 of April 6th. extended the information on C/2009 F6, with respect to the existence of a previous report to their finding in the images of the SWAN. The comet was discovered by Dae-a.m. Yi (Yeongwol-kun, Gangwon-do, Korea) on CCD images obtained on March 26th. with a Canon camera 5D and objective of 90 mm f/2.8, considering magnitude 12.5. The preliminary orbital elements of C/2009 F6 (Yi-SWAN) appeared in the MPEC 2009-G21, according to which the comet would pass perihelion on May 8th. 2009 a a distance of q=1.3 AU.


Mauro Vittorio Zanotta (1963 - 2009)

On Sunday May 17th. 2009 an unfortunate accident took place in the French slope of Mont Blanc, in which Mauro Vittorio Zanotta (Laino, Italy), was killed, loving Mountain climbing and Astronomy. C/1991 Y1 will be remembered in the cometary community by its discovery of the comet 1991g1 = (Zanotta-Brewington), on  December 23rd, 1991 using a reflector of 15 cm, and independently by Howard Brewington (Cloudcroft, New Mexico, the USA) (IAUC 5412).

A useful and interesting text of Zanotta on the observation and search of comets can be consulted in:


C/1991 Y1 (Zanotta-Brewington) in the Pegasus, 30 December 1991

(The comet was estimated visually then in m1~9. The brightest star of the field, SAO 106884, has magnitude 8.0)

Image:  Telescope 190 mm + CCD (image in false color), taken by Herman Mikuz.


The La Sagra Sky Survey - 233P/La Sagra = P/2009 WJ50 - P/2009 QG31 - P/2009 T2 - P/2010 R2 - C/2012 B3 - P/2012 NJ - P/2012 S2


The great mountain of the Sagra dominates the horizon on one of the telescopes of 45 cm, used in the discovery of P/2009 T2

Astronomical observatory of La Sagra

233P/La Sagra = P/2009 WJ50

An apparently asteroidal object, discovered on Nov. 19, 2009, in the course of the La Sagra Sky Survey (LSSS) has been found to show cometary appearance in images taken in the course of the WISE mission. Upon request of the MPC M. T. Read and J. V. Scotti (Spacewatch) and W. H. Ryan and E. V. Ryan (Magdalena Ridge) were able to confirm this result. Additionally, the comet was identified with a two-night detection by LINEAR of May 8, and 10, 2005, then named 2005 JR71. The orbit for comet P/2009 WJ50 =2005 JR71 (La Sagra) shows perihelion on Mar. 12, 2010, at about 1.79 AU. The period is about 5.3 years. This is the 6th amateur comet discovery in 2009, and the 3rd for the La Sagra Survey. (IAUC 9117, MPEC 2010-D01, -D02). (Maik Meyer

P/2009 QG31

IAUC 9078 on September 29th. announced the discovery of a new periodic comet, P/2009 QG31 (La Sagra). Initially supposed as an asteroidal object (magnitude 18) it was found on images obtained on August 16th. and 19th. by the La Sagra Sky Survey (Astronomical observatory of La Sagra, telescope of 0,45 m, Puebla of Don Fadrique, Granada, Spain), and its cometary nature was perceived in CCD images obtained September 12th. by Andrew Tubbiolo and Robert McMillan with the Spacewatch telescope of 1,8 m (Steward Observatory, Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA), and later by other observers. The elliptical orbital elements appeared in the MPEC 2009-S67 and MPEC 2009-S151, according to which the comet would pass perihelion on October 10th. 2009 to the distance q=2.1 AU, with P=6.8 years.

Present (2009) the instrumentation of the LSSS consists of three telescopes of 0,45 m. f/2.8 located in the Astronomical observatory of La Sagra. The pursuit of the objects is realised by means of the telescopes of the OLS and the OAM. The acquisition and reduction of data are made entirely remote via Internet, by the members of LSSS located in Spain, Germany,  Croatia and Hong Kong.

In the obtaining of the images of the discovery of P/2009 QG31 Rescuing Sanchez participated, Jaime Nomen, Reiner Stoss, William K. Yeung, Juan Rodriguez, Aleksandar Cikota and Stefan Cikota.

Reiner Stoss

The main activities of the OLS are astrometry and photometric observations of asteroids and comets. Until September 2009 more than 500000 observations has been sent to the MPC. From 2008 the LSSS has become the most prolific NEO program after Catalina, LINEAR and Spacewatch, the three important programs subsidized by the NASA.

Confirmation images of P/2009 QG31, obtained on September 18th by Gustavo Muler and Richard Miles.

Faulkes Telescope North (Haleakala, Hawaii, the USA) + South (Siding Spring, Australia)


P/2009 T2

IAUC 9081 October 13th. announced the discovery of a new periodic comet, P/2009 T2 (La Sagra), found by Reiner Stoss on images obtained on October 12th. (magnitude 17) by Jaime Nomen during the La Sagra Sky Survey (Astronomical observatory of La Sagra, telescope of 0,45 m). The discovery was confirmed by other observers. The object has been located in previous images (September 18th. and later ones) of the Catalina Sky Survey. The elliptical orbital elements appeared in the MPEC 2009-T39, according to which the comet will pass perihelion on January 12th. 2010 to the distance q=1.8 AU, with P=21 years.

In the obtaining of the images of the discovery of the P/2009 T2 participated, Jaime Nomen, Reiner Stoss, William K.  Yeung and Juan Rodriguez.

Confirmation images of P/2009 T2, obtained on October 13th. by Richard Miles.

Golden Delicious Hill Observatory (J77, tel. 0.28 m, Stourton Caundle, Dorset, UK) + Faulkes North (F65, tel. 2.0 ms, Hawaii, USA)

P/2010 R2 (LA SAGRA)

J. Nomen reports that an object, discovered in the course of the La Sagra Sky Survey on Sep. 14, 2010, showed some diffuse appearance, which was later confirmed on Sep. 16. Prediscovery images by La Sagra of Aug. 13, did not show that diffuseness so clearly. After placement on the NEO Confirmation Page P. Birtwhistle (Great Shefford, England), R. Holmes and S. Foglia (Westfield, Illinois) and J. V. Scotti (Spacewatch, USA) confirmed the cometary nature of the 17.5m object. Comet P/2010 R2 (La Sagra) passed perihelion already on June 25, 2010, at about 2.6 AU. The period is about 5.5 years. It seems that this object is one of the so called 'main belt comets'. This is the 4th discovery for the amateur survey La Sagra. (CBET 2459 (subscription required), MPEC 2010-S11)  

Jan Vales - P/2010 H2

, Jan Vales by the 0.60 m telescope of Cichocki of Crni Vrh Observatory
right: P/2010 H2-like asteroidal in Virgo, one of the images in the series of the discovery. The brightest star in the field, TYC 311-1309-1, on the left edge, has magnitude 10.4]

The CBET 2249 of April 17th., 2010 reported the discovery of an asteroidal object with unusually bright appearance, by Jan Vales on CCD images obtained on April 16th. (magnitude 12.6) using a 0.60 m telescope (Crni Vrh Observatory, Slovenia
). ="">

On April 19th, the CBET 2253 provided additional information. The object was comet, P/2010 H2 (Vales), confirming the presence of a small elliptical point expansion. The new improved astrometric orbital elements, with the perihelion on April 24th. 2010.
The object would have been approximately in 1976 to a minimum distance of 1.0 AU from Jupiter.

The IAUC 9139 and 9137 of April 25th. provided interesting new data. Yang Bin as reported by Sarid and Gal (University of Hawaii), have achieved results in near-infrared spectrophotometry (0.8 to 2.5 microns) from observations on 20th. and April 22nd. by 3 m IRTF telescope (Infrared Telescope Facility, NASA, Mauna Kea - Hawaii). Both nights were observed two broad absorption bands centered at 1.5 and 2.0 microns, which are consistent with the abundance of water ice grains in the central coma. Additionally, we detected a narrow band at 1.65 microns, which indicated the presence of heavy security crystalline ice. According to these preliminary results, the temperature of ice particles observed is about 100 ± 20 K. Moreover, visual estimates in the days after the outburst provide a magnitude m1 ~ 11.5 (Apr. 22) for expanding a coma diameter ~ 1 '. MPEC 2010-H57 offers improved elliptical orbital elements and ephemeris, with perihelion on March 8th., 2010 at a distance q = 3.1 AU, and P = 7.5 years.

Following a text of Jure Skvarca about the circumstances of discovery:

On images taken by Jan Vales in the course of the Crni Vrh Asteroid and Comet Search program PIKA, on April 16th., 2010, an unusually bright unknown object ( mag. 12.5 ) was automatically detected. The object was near opposition, in an area searched by Catalina Sky Survey ( CSS ) just a day before. As it is not usual to encounter unknown objects of this magnitude in the area recently scanned by sky surveys, a question of its nature naturally appeared. The object was placed on the Near Earth Object Confirmation Page and with the help of observations from other observatories it became apparent very soon that it is about 2 AU away. In case that this was an asteroid (as we would infer from the stellar appearance on the discovery images) this would mean a diameter in the order of 100 km, which is extremely unlikely. The remaining explanation within common knowledge of the Solar system is that it is a cometary outburst of a large magnitude. Recently a similar outburst was experienced by comet 17/P Holmes. This object has triggered massive activity of 40 observatories around the world which contributed altogether 226 observations to the Minor Planet Center ( MPC ). The observers from the CSS confirmed that the object is not visible on their images taken only 15 hours before the discovery. There was a lively debate about the nature of this object on the Minor Planet Mailing List with most plausible explanation that it is a previously unknown comet in outburst. Further observations by several observers showed that the object has a wider profile than nearby stars and Alain Maury detected faint coma on long exposures made from Chile. At 19:25 UT on April 17 the MPC issued an electronic circular MPEC 2010-H12 where the object is designated as a comet P/2010 H2. The orbit is still not very well determined, but most likely it has a semimajor axis of 3.9 AU and eccentricity of 0.2. This is similar to the orbital elements of the asteroids of the Hilda family. This object will undoubtedly be investigated further in the days to come.

Kaoru Ikeya and Shigeki Murakami - P / 2010 V1

(Images: Left, Kaoru Ikeya, right: Shigeki Murakami, with the telescopes used for the discovery)

C/2010 V1 was discovered visually and independently by Kaoru Ikeya (Mori-machi, Shuchi-gun, Shizuoka-ken, Japan; 25 cm reflector telescope at 39x) on November 2nd., 2010, and Shigeki Murakami ( Tohkamachi, Niigata-ken, Japan; reflector at 78x 46 cm) on November 3rd., according to the IAUC 9175 from November 3rd.  

The IAUC 9176 November 4th. provided additional information, and MPEC 2010-V46 parabolic orbital elements by which the comet had passed perihelion on October 18th. at the distance q = 1.7 AU. Visual estimates with binoculars made on November 4th. offered a m1 ~ 7.5.

New astrometry ( MPEC 2 010-W29 ) showed that the comet is of short period, with elliptical orbital elements by which the comet had passed perihelion on October 11th. at the distance q = 1.6 AU, with P = 5.0 years.

An extensive story of the discovery appear on Murakami's page:

P/2010 V1 Virgo, November 14, 2010

[The comet was estimated visually m1 ~ 8.2, with a parabolic point of about 10 'along the major axis. The brightest star in the field is SAO 139129, magnitude 7.7. The galaxy visible on the left edge is NGC 4941, magnitude 12.0. ]

Image taken with a 200 mm telescope + CCD by Michael Jäger

Brian Geoffrey Marsden (1937 - 2010)

2010 November 18th.

Mike Meyer: "It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of Brian G. Marsden, one of the greatest astronomers. Brian was the person who has inspired all my astronomical career and helped me so many times with his helpful, patient and friendly answers to all my questions. Without him I would not have achieved what I have. Brian was always helpful to amateurs and listened and gave advice. I am proud to be a "groupie" as he once described Rainer Kracht, himself and me in regard to our comet groups. I will really miss him..."

The obituary by Gareth Williams.

Leonid Elenin - C / 2010 X1 - P/2011 NO1

C/2010 X1

The CBET 2584 of December 13th., 2010 reported the discovery of a new comet by Leonid Elenin (Lyubertsy, Russia) on CCD images obtained remotely from the ISON-NM Observatory (Mayhill, New Mexico, USA) on December 10th. (19 mag.) with a 0.45 m reflector. It was later confirmed by other observers. The very preliminary parabolic orbital elements and ephemeris appeared on MPEC 2010-X101 , according to which the comet had passed perihelion on April 1st., 2010 at a distance q = 5.2 AU.

Subsequent astrometric orbital elements yielded improved, according to which the comet will pass perihelion on September 10th., 2011, to the interesting short distance q = 0.48 AU.

P/2011 NO1

Amateur astronomers L. Elenin (Lyubertsy) and I. Molotow (Moscow) report their discovery of a new comet on Jul. 7th, 2011, using a remotely controlled 0.45-m astrograph at the ISON-NM observatory near Mayhill (NM, USA). After posting on the NEO Confirmation Page R. Holmes, S. Foglia, and T. Vorobjov (Ashmore), Foglia, P. Miller,
P. Roche, A. Tripp, R. Holmes, R. Miles, L. Buzzi (Faulkes Telescope North), L. Buzzi (Varese), N. Howes, G. Sostero, and E. Guido (Faulkes Telescope South), and H. Sato (Nerpio) confirmed the cometary nature of the 19.5m object. While the object was prepared for announcement by the CBAT it was already announced as asteroid 2011 NO1 by the MPC. The first orbit for the still nameless comet P/2011 NO1 indicated perihelion on already on Jan. 22, 2011, at about 1.2 AU. The period is about 13.1 years. This is Elenin's
second comet discovery. (Maik Meyer

Michael Schwartz - C/2011 K1

Paulo R. Holvorcem (Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil) and Michael Schwartz (Patagonia, AZ, USA) report their discovery of a new comet using the Tenagra III astrograph on May 26, 2011. After placement on the NEO Confirmation Page W. H. Ryan and E. V. Ryan (Magdalena Ridge Observatory), L. Buzzi (Varese), and R. Holmes, T. Vorobjov, and S. Foglia (Ashmore) confirmed the cometary nature of the 18.5 m object. The first orbit for comet C/2011 K1 (Schwartz-Holvorcem) shows perihelion on Apr. 19, 2011, at about 3.4 AU. This is the 3rd. comet discovery for Holvorcem. (IAUC 9211 (subscription required),MPEC 2011-L04) (Maik Meyer

Tom Gehrels (1925 - 2011)

July 11th., 2011

In 2011, Professor Tom Gehrels passed away, discoverer of 4 periodic comets (64P/Swift-Gehrels, 78P/Gehrels 2, 82P/Gehrels 3, 90P/Gehrels 1). An article on
Wikipedia describes his live and achievements.
Remembering Tom Gehrels (1925–2011)

Artyom Novichonok and Vladimir Gerke - P/2011 R3

The Russian amateur astronomer Artyom Novichonok reports the discovery of a new comet by Vladimir Gerke and himself on images taken with a 40-cm Ritchey-Chretién reflector located at Ka-Dar observatory (near Nizhniy Arkhyz, Russia). After posting on the NEO Confirmation Page N. Howes, G. Sostero, and E. Guido (remotely using Faulkes Telescope North at Haleakala), G. Hug (Scranton), and T. H. Bressi (Spacewatch) were able to confirm the cometary nature. The first orbit for the 18.5m comet P/2011 R3 (Novichonok) indicated perihelion already on Aug. 23, 2011, at about 3.6 AU. The period is about 10.7 years. (Maik Meyer

Claudine Rinner - P/2011 W2 - C/2012 CH17

Copyright: Claudine Rinner

P/2011 W2 (Rinner): Discovered on 2011 Nov. 28, by Claudine Rinner using a 0.5-m reflector situated at Oukaimeden Observatory, Morocco. 17m, q=2.3 AU, T=2011 Oct. 10, P=10.3 years. CBET 2922, MPEC 2011-W80 (Maik Meyer

C/2012 CH 17: Discovered as an asteroidal object in the course of the Morocco Oukaimeden Sky Survey on 2012 Feb. 7. 18m, q=1.3 AU, T=2012 Sep. 28, CBET 3020, MPEC 2012-C48 (Maik Meyer

Manfred Bruenjes - C/2012 C2

Copyright: Manfred Bruenjes

C/2012 C2 (Bruenjes): Discovered on 2012 Feb. 11, by amateur astronomer Manfred Bruenjes (Warrensburg, Missouri, USA). 11.5m,  q=0.8 AU, T=2012 Mar. 12, CBET 3019, MPEC 2012-C44 (Maik Meyer
Details about the discovery can be found on his website.

Discovery image of C/2012 C2

C/2012 B3 (LA SAGRA)
C/2012 B3 (La Sagra): Discovered on 2012 Jan. 29, in the course of the amateur La Sagra survey. 18.5m, q=3.5 AU, T=2011 Nov. 29, 5th comet for La Sagra, CBET 3012,
MPEC 2012-C23.
An apparently asteroidal object discovered on CCD images taken with the 0.45-m f/2.8 reflector at La Sagra, Spain (discovery observations tabulated below) was later noted by Jaime Nomen on La Sagra images taken on Jan. 30.2 to be a possible comet with slight diffuseness. After posting on the Minor Planet Center's NEOCP webpage, other CCD astrometrists have commented on the object's cometary appearance. CBET 3012 (Maik Meyer

A more complete story about the discovery can be found here.

P/2012 NJ (LA SAGRA)
An apparently asteroidal object found on CCD images taken in the course
of the La Sagra survey by S. Sanchez, J. Nomen, M. Hurtado, J. A. Jaume, W. K.
Y. Yeung, P. Rios, F. Serra, and V. Rios with a 0.45-m f/2.8 reflector
(discovery observations tabulated below) has been reported by Gerhard J. Hahn
(Institute of Planetary Research, German Aerospace Center, Berlin) as showing
a 35" tail in p.a. 235 deg on stacked and single images taken by Stefano
Mottola using the 1.23-m telescope on Calar Alto on July 16, 17, and 18 UT.

Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok - C/2012 S1 (ISON)

Amateur discovery by V. Nevski and A. Novichonok in the course of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) Survey from near Kislovodsk, Russia, on 2012 Sep. 21. (Maik Meyer

About the discovery...

It was first unstable night after ten ones of hard work. The endless clouds disturbed to look around the sky. That night Artyom and me decided to walk through early discovered asteroids with the most interesting orbits.But the sky became clean literally for half an hour till the dawn and it was decided to launch continious search platform on the border of Twins and Cancer – by chance.After the ending of the series Artyom went to have a rest. And I loaded platform in CoLiTec and remained to wait the processing completion learning earlier discovered astrometry of asteroids. When I started the programme of completing results the first thing I noticed among the third position objects was the bright one with unusual moving. The object was not identified with the MPC base. The unusual thing was rather slow movement relatively to the asteroids of the main zone in this region. At that moment I started to realize that so slow object did not belong to the asteroid zone and could be situated only far away behind Jupiter`s orbit. My heart missed a bit. Is it really a comet? There was nothing to do except disposing astrometry on the site NEOCP for acknowledgement. In the evening I asked Artyom to book the time for observation of the object on the 1.5m telescope of Maidanak
observatory to be sure in the comet nature of the object. Artyom and me looked through old materials,analyzed possible orbits of a new object, by then there appeared some new astrometry points. About 4 o`clock in the morning we saw the pictures – no doubt that it was a comet, classical compact one, 9x11, similar to long-period comets. We immediately sent a message to IAU. We were waiting for results. We were afraid that the object has already been discovered. But the most interesting was that the orbit of the comet started to appear with the introduction of new points of astrometry and the analysis showed perihilion near the Sun, so the brightness of the comet in the maximum could reach the full Moon. Finally on October 24 there was a circular and it was hard to believe that perihilion of the comet was 0,01 a.e. and at the maximum brightness could reach negative dimension and such one that the comet could become quite a comet of the century!

Vitali Nevski

Left: Artyom Novichonok  right: Vitali Nevski
Copyright: Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok

Discovery image of C/2012 S1
Copyright: Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok

Confirmation of cometary activity
Copyright: Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok

P/2012 S2 (LA SAGRA)
Discovered in the course of the amateur La Sagra Sky Survey on 2012 Sep. 23. 18m, q=1.4 AU, T=2012 Aug. 19, P=10.5 years.
CBET 3239, MPEC 2012-S79 (Maik Meyer

Tomas Vorobjov - P/2012 T7 (Vorobjov)

Tomas Vorobjov , Bratislava, Slovak Republic, using remotely a 0.81-m f/7 Ritchey-Chretien reflector located at the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter.

On three 120-s images via the Sierra Stars Observatory Network in the course of a minor-planet search survey undertaken as part of the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) school campaigns. After posting on the Minor Planet Center's NEOCP webpage, other observers have commented on the object's cometary appearance. The discovery was announced by the Minor Planet Center on 18 October, three days after the discovery.
Full coverage of the discovery can be found at

Copyright: Tomas Vorobjov

Discovery image of P/2012 T7
Copyright: Tomas Vorobjov

Animation of P/2012 T7
Copyright: Tomas Vorobjov

Paulo Holvorcem - C/2013 D1 (Holvorcem)

CBET 3420 announced the discovery of a new comet by Paulo Holvorcem in the course of a sky survey using a the Tenagra III astrograph. It was discovered a 19.2 mag according to MPEC 2013-D41.

This is the 4th. comet discovery but the first getting his name only. The other discoveries were made the late Charles Juels or recently with Michael Schwartz.

Masuyuki Iwamoto - C/2013 E2 (Iwamoto)

CBET 3439 announced the discovery of a new comet by Masuyuki Iwamoto ( Awa, Tokushima-ken, Japan) on CCD images taken on March 10th and 11th using a 100 mm f/4 lens and a Canon EOS 5D DSLR camera.

Copyright: AstroArts/Hiroshi Ando

Copyright: AstroArts/Hiroshi Ando

Copyright: Masuyuki Iwamoto

C/2013 H1 (LA SAGRA)

Discovered in the course of the amateur La Sagra Sky Survey on 2013 Apr. 19. 18m, coma 15", tail 16", T = 2013 June 1.3726,  q = 2.62 AU, (CBET 3485), MPEC 2013-H27

Gennadii Borisov - C/2013 N4 (Borisov)

Ukrainian amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov discovered a brand new comet on July 8 near the bright star Capella in the constellation Auriga. The comet was confirmed and officially christened C/2013 N4 (Borisov) on July 13. At the time of discovery, Borisov was attending the Russian-Ukrainian “Southern Night” star party in Crimea, Ukraine. He nabbed the comet – his first – using an 8-inch (20-cm) f/1.5  wide field telescope of his own design equipped with a CCD camera.
Telescope: GENON (designed by the discoverer), D=200mm, F=300 mm,  CCD: FLI ML 16803, field 7 x 7 deg.

Copyright: Oleg Bruzgalov

Copyright: Oleg Bruzgalov
Discovery image
Copyright Gennady Borisov
Copyright Gennady Borisov

Terry Lovejoy - C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy)

CBET No. 3649, issued on 2013, September 09th, announced the discovery of a new comet (discovery magnitude ~14.4) by Terry Lovejoy on CCD images obtained with a 20-cm f/2.1 Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector on two nights. The new comet has been designated C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy). It is the 4th. discovery. More information about the discovery circumstances can be found here written by Terry Lovejoy.

In recent months I have been putting a considerable amount of effort into improving my automatic comet detection software. It’s now at the point I am saving a considerable amount of time compared to the old method of blinking frames by eye. So it’s really pleasing to have the software find a new comet, C/2013 R1.
On the morning of September 7 (UT) I did an imaging run consisting of 225 individual fields, with 3 separate exposures on each field. By taking 3 separate exposures of the same field, spaced by a time interval of, in this case 8.5 minutes, allows detection of minor planets and asteroids much easier. In practice objects moving as slowly as 0.2 degrees per day show a small but noticeable shift between the images.
Returning to September 7, all of the fields were processed through the detection software which identified a number of suspects. Although mostly false positives are were found in the form of poorly registered stars, reflections and asteroids but one the suspects located in field number 76, centred on RA 6h 00m Dec -7d 9m, looked very much like a comet. At first I thought this would be one of the existing periodic comet’s, but a quick check in guide showed nothing as well as a check using the online Comet NEO Checker tool on the Minor Planet Center website. A further check against the Digital Sky Survey showed nothing either (sometimes a row of faint stars can give the impression of a moving object if one or more of the stars is not visible in one of the image triplets). Below is the actual image triplet with the suspect in it.
Figure 1 – The “suspect” as imaged at 2:30am, 2:38am and 2:47am local time. Each exposure is 14 seconds
Once it was established there was no existing object was there, it was necessary to rule out reflections from bright stars. I have been fooled by this a couple of times before, luckily never reporting it to CBAT until follow-up observations were performed. Furthermore it was surprising this could be a new comet, since the area was readily accessible to northern hemisphere surveys and amateur comet hunters.
So I extrapolated the position for the following morning at RA 05 59 40 and Dec -06 33 00 and waiting anxiously for that area of sky to get high enough to image. At 1:15 am I fired off a single 30 second exposure and as the image displayed I immediately saw a diffuse object very close to the predicted position. I felt positive I had a new comet, but to be sure I began a sequence of 30 second exposures, and as the images display slowly but surely I could see the object move against the star field. There was now no question about this being a comet, but to be certain it was time for other people to confirm the sighting and an orbit to be determined prior to an official announcement. The orbit is important in determining whether the comet is new, or a lost periodic one being rediscovered. Furthermore CBAT have a strict process to prevent embarrassing mishaps (in the past a number of non-existent comets actually got designations).
After obtaining 3 additional astrometric positions from September 8, I submitted a report to CBAT and soon the NEO Confirmation page was updated to reflect the new object. Thanks to the prompt action of the following stations A79, H36, H47, I39, I47, Sato at I89 and Guido, Howes, Sato, Novichonok, Urbanik, Ligustri at Q62 the comet was quickly confirmed as C/2013 R1 in CBET 3649 issued on September 9.
The prospects for C/2013 R1 are quite favourable as it approaches the earth to 0.4 AU in late November when it will most likely be visible in binoculars from dark skies. Images seem to indicate a larger external coma and that the true brightness is around 2 magnitudes higher than current predictions, so it will be interesting to watch total magnitude estimates as it gets closer to the sun. Perihelion occurs on Christmas day when it will be between the orbit of earth and Venus, but it will have receded to 0.9 AU from the earth which should result in a net fading (but it should also be more condensed then). During this time it will pass close to Comet ISON and it may be possible to photograph both of them together with a short telephoto lens.

Finally here are some summary of statistics for this find:
Parameter Value
Comet Discovery Location Monoceros
Comet Discovery Site E27
Comet Designation C/2013 R1
Discover Date Sep 9.7688, 2013
Comet Altitude at discovery 28
Comet Discovery Magnitude 14
Images taken since last Discovery 70,000
E27 Latitude 27.55 S
E27 Altitude 30m
E27 Clear nights (Jan) typical 3
E27 Clear nights (Aug) typical 10
E27 Annual Rainfall 1200mm
E27 Typical night humidity 60-95%
E27 Sky Brightness range SQM 19.0-20.0 at Zenith
Scope Aperture 20.3 cm F ratio 2.1 T ratio (calculated) 2.9
Camera CCD Kodak 8300 KAF
Field of view 2.44 x 1.83 degrees
Image Scale 5.21 arc secs
Exposure range 10-40 seconds
Software Maxim DL, ASCOM, Source Extractor / Pinpoint

C/2013 R1 : 80 x 30 second exposures, FOV is 33 x 33', North at left. Taken September 10.7, 2013 UT.
Copyright Terry Lovejoy

Albert Jones (1920 - 2013)

On September 11th the community of comet discoverers lost the discoverer of two comets. Albert Jones passed away at the age of 93. He was a active observer of variable stars and discovered both comets during observing variable stars. His first comet discovery was in 1946 (1946h Jones) , the second in 2000 (C/2000 W1  UTSUNOMIYA-JONES).

Albert Jones with the telescope used for his discovery of comet 2000 W1 (Utsonomiya-Jones).

Michael Schwartz - P/2013 T2 (Schwartz)

CBET No. 3676, issued on 2013, October 22, announces the discovery of a new comet (discovery magnitude ~18.8) by M. Schwartz on CCD images obtained with the 0.41-m f/3.75 Tenagra III astrograph.

Paulo Holvorcem - C/2013 U2 (Holvorcem)

CBET No. 3683 announced the discovery of a new comet (discovery magnitude ~ 19 mag.) by Paulo Holvorcem on CCD images.

Personal communication:
The comet was discovered on images taken with the Tenagra 0.41-m astrograph on 2013 Oct. 23 between 09:59 and 11:01 UT, with the moon being 81% illuminated and near zenith. To avoid excessive moonlight interference, search fields for that night were chosen more than 40 degrees from the moon. One of the search areas was chosen some 13 degrees north of the galactic plane, about 48 degrees from the moon. According to the MPC's sky coverage map, this area had not been searched by other surveys that report their sky coverage for at least two weeks, so it seemed like a promising area to search for comets and NEOs. Images from the search with the Tenagra astrograph are processed for moving objects with SkySift, a real-time image processing pipeline I first developed in 2005 for the wide-field bright comet search with Charles Juels at Fountain Hills (2004-2008). On visually inspecting the small subframes around moving object detections produced by the pipeline, in order to reject false ones, I noticed one detection near the corner of a field (these subframes are contained in the attached zip file). The detection was false, but by coincidence the small ... field of the subframes showed a faint real object which coincided with the false detection in the first image only. I measured the positions and magnitudes of this last object on the subframes, and found out why it had not been automatically detected: due to the not so good seeing and very low signal-to-noise ratio, the measured positions were not very accurate, and did not fit well enough to a uniform motion to satisfy the automated detection criteria. I immediately suspected that it could be a comet, due to its slow motion (0.12 deg/day) and a very slight hint of diffuseness. However, the seeing on the discovery images was not good enough to demonstrate this diffuseness. To clarify this, on the next night (2013 Oct. 24 UT) I took three unfiltered 300-s exposures with the Tenagra 0.81-m telescope. This time seeing was good, and I could clearly see that the object was a comet, with a 6" coma and a 6" tail. I then reported the comet discovery to the CBAT and the MPC. The object was placed on the new Possible Comet Confirmation Page (PCCP), and the cometary nature was confirmed by several astrometrists. It stayed on the PCCP for a week, until enough observations could be collected to provide a reasonably firm estimate of the orbit. It turned out to be a long-period comet with perihelion near the distance of Jupiter. This was the third high perihelion comet found at Tenagra in 2013.

In retrospect it was a very lucky find, coming only 8 days after the discovery with the same telescope of C/2013 T2 (Schwartz).

  C/2013 U2 : discovery images, Size: 1.9 x 2.3 arcminutes.

Copyright Paulo Holvorcem

Gennadii Borisov - C/2013 V2 (Borisov)

Personal communication:

On the night of November 6th I made a deep survey observation in Auriga constellation with my telescope Genon 300/1.5, CCD FLI ML16803, exp 600 sec (usually exp.90-180 sec) (information about the telescope GENON 300/1.5 - non commercial project.
I make these telescopes myself. (The comet C/2013 V3 (Nevski) was discovered with the same telescope).

On the same night I made an animation of the first images and found the new diffuse object (too near to the edge of the frame) After that I finished the survey immediately and started doing a series of that object only. Here are some shots and animation made at the moment of the discovery.

2013 V2 : Discovery images, Copyright Genadii Borrisov

Vitali Nevski - C/2013 V3 (Nevski)

Vitali Nevski reported the discovery of a comet with a 60" coma on four180-s CCD exposures obtained on Nov. 7, with a 0.2-m f/1.5 reflector (and confirmed with images taken using a 0.4-m f/3 reflector) at the ISON-Kislovodsk observatory near Kislovodsk,Russia.

C/2013 V3: Confirmation image. Copyright Viali Nevski.

Copyright Vitali Nevski

Michel Ory - C/2013 V5 (OUKAIMEDEN)

CBET No. 3713, issued on 2013, November 15, announced the discovery of an apparently asteroidal object (discovery magnitude ~19.4) by Michel Ory on CCD images obtained with a 0.5-m f/3 reflector at the Oukaimeden Observatory, Marrakech. It is his second discovery but the first named after the sky survey at Oukaimeden Observatory. More about his first discovery:  P/2008 Q2, Michel Ory

Copyright Michel Ory

C/2014 A4 (SONEAR)

CBET No. 3783, issued on 2014, January 16, announced the discovery of an apparently asteroidal object (discovery magnitude ~18.1) by Cristovao Jacques, Eduardo Pimentel, and Joao Ribeiro de Barros on CCD images obtained on Jan. 12.0 UT with a 0.45-m f/2.9 reflector of the Southern Observatory for Near Earth Research (SONEAR) at Oliveira, Brazil. The object has been found to show cometary appearance by CCD astrometrists elsewhere and then also by Jacques et al. The new comet has been designated C/2014 A4 (SONEAR). Source.

Story about the circumstances of the discovery:

December and January are the rainy season months in Brazil, but this year has been atypical, so we had 12 clear nights in a row. The C/2014 A4 was discovered on the night of January 12th. There was 85% iluminated moon, and we begun the night surveying some low elongation regions due west. Clouds came and we close the roof. One hour later, the sky was clear again and we begun to work on the region between R.A 5 and 6 hours, and declination -40 and -50, with 180 seconds exposures at 10 minutes intervals. The beginning of  the survey was centralized at dec -40 and as  half of the field was above this declination, we spotted the object at declination -39.6 in a matter of lucky, on the 5th survey field. Since December 18th, we are sending the Sky Coverage  report to the MPC., so our coverage for that day can been easily seen.

I use Skysift, a real-time image processing pipeline software developed by Paulo Holvorcem to detect moving objects, but due to my activities, I could only begin to analyse  the images 12 hours after the end of the night. The object apparently was asteroidal, and I made all the checks, including the NEOCP ratings. The rating was good to send to NEOCP. On the next day, Ernesto Guido emailed me saying that he imaged the object in Australia and it was a little bit elongated. One day more, he confirmed the comet nature using Faulkes South. On the same day I also did 60 x 60s images using the T31 telescope of, and after stacking images, it was clear that it was a comet. After we sending our reports, MPC changed the object S002239 from NEOC to PCCP. More observations were done and the circular was issued on January 16th,

discovery images

Telescope used for the discovery.
SONEAR observatory
SONEAR staff: Joao Ribeiro (left), Eduardo Pimentel (middle), Cristovao Jacques (right)

All images copyright Cristovao Jacques & SONEAR

C/2014 E2 (Jacques)

CBET No. 3828, issued on 2014, March 14, announced the discovery of a comet (~ magnitude 14.7) on CCD images taken by  C. Jacques, E. Pimentel and J. Barros using a 0.45-m f/2.9 reflector at the SONEAR Observatory near Oliveira, Brazil. The new comet has been designated C/2014 E2 (JACQUES).

Report of the discoverer:
On the night 12-13th March with a 12 day old Moon, we begun our NEO survey in regions close to the western horizon, and near the opposition meridian around declinations -30 and -40.  Moon and thin haze clouds were an excellent source for the formation of many false positives in our detection software. In the middle of the night, I checked the second batch of many detections, then suddenly a bright, fast with a little tail object appears in our blinking session. No doubt it was a comet. The traditional check points were done as well the communication to the MPC and CBAT. The object was posted in NECOP as S002692 . After sending the report I tried to grab more follow-up images as the weather begun to deteriorate. The comet was around magnitude 14.5 according our measurements, but I suspected  it was brighter visually.

As soon as it was overcast, I received a message from  my friend Andrés Chapman, Argentine, mentioned that he was observing the new object and he asked me if I´d like to follow up his work. He shared his  screen and I was able to see his images. The comet was obvious, and it was  the end of a funny night.

discovery images


  Professional Surveys


Siding Spring: Robert McNaught (left) and Gordon Garradd (right) in front of the Uppsala dome and its office (right) in 2003.