Comet discoverers & Comet discoveries by amateurs

2000 - 2009

Last update:  18. March 2017

Discoveries from 1978 to 1999 Discoveries 2010 to 2019
Discoveries 2020 to now




Of 193 discovered comets in 2003, only one was made by an amateur astronomer,

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, 3 new 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.

 Syogo Utsunomiya - Albert Jones - C/2000 W1

IAUC 7526 announced the visual discovery of a new comet C/2000 W1 on Nov. 18th. by Syogo Utsunomiya (Aso, Kumamoto; 25x150 binoculars) moving very fast southeastward. Attempts by serveral visual observers failed. On Nov. 25th. Albert F. Jones, Stoke, Nelson, New Zealand (C/2000 W1)discovered a new comet. The calculated orbit showed that it was the same object as reported by Syogo Utsonomiya. This comet is the second discovery for both !

left: Albert Jones, right: Syogo Utsunomiya (Copyright unknown)

Vance Petriew - C/2001 Q2

IAUC 7686 announced the visual discovery of a new comet C/2001 Q2 12 C1 on August 18th. by Vance Petriew during a star party at Cyprus Hills, Saskatchewan. The discoverer reported a round coma of diameter 3' with a condensed nucleus and no tail with a 0.51-m f/5 reflector.

More details can be found on his discovery report or on his website.

William Kwong Yu Yeung - C/2002 BV

Copyright: William K. Y. Yeung

William Kwong Yu Yeung (Desert Eagle Observatory, Benson, Arizona, USA) discovered this "apparently asteroidal object" on 2002 January 21.49, using a charge-coupled-device (CCD) electronic-camera attached to his 45-cm reflector. The stellar image had a magnitude of 20.4. He obtained additional images on January 22 and 23. It received the preliminary designation of "2002 BV". During early April, Yeung noted that his new object was still listed as having astrometry from only three days, so despite the fact that it should have been brightening, no additional positions were obtained. He contacted T. Spahr (Whipple Observatory, Mt. Hopkins). Spahr found that positions were available from Lincoln Laboratory ETS (New Mexico, USA) for February, March, and April. These positions allowed him to identify additional asteroidal images that had been reported during 1998 (Steward Observatory, Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA) and 2000-2001 (Lincoln Laboratory ETS). The 2001 positions spanned nearly a month and the object received the preliminary minor planet designation "2001 CB40". Spahr noted the "unusual nature of the orbit" and, together with M. Calkins, he obtained unfiltered CCD observations on May 5, 6, and 7, using the 1.2-m reflector. The images revealed the object was larger that the nearby stars, while a faint tail extended 5 arc seconds in PA 315¡. The total magnitude was given as 17.  Source: Cometography

Kaoru Ikeya - Daqing Zhang - C/2002 C1

IAUC 7812 announced the independent visual discovery of a new comet C/2002 C1 on Feb. 1st,  by Kaoru Ikeya (Mori, Shuchi, Shizuoka, Japan; 0.25-m reflector and Daqing Zhang near Kaifeng, Henan province, China; 0.2-m reflector. The comet showed a coma with 2' and 9 mag. This comet got later the periodic number 153P because it is a long periodic comet that was seen in earlier days.

Left: Kaoru Ikeya, Right: Daqing Zhang

Douglas Snyder - Shigeki Murakami - C/2002 E2

Copyright Douglas Snyder

On March 11th, a new comet C/2002 E2 was discovered independently by Douglas Snyder ans Shigeki Murakami. Both used large Newtonian reflectors and discovered the new comet visually at 13.0 (Snyder) and 11 mag. (Murakami). The discovery was announced with IAUC 7850.

Discovery story from Doug Snyder:

In the early morning hours of Monday, March 11, 2002, I was observing our beautiful Arizona night sky in the constellation Aquila (The Eagle) rising in the east.  This is a constellation is which a good portion of the Summer Milky Way is visible.  It was not too long before sunrise, so I was just moving the telescope around and looking at some glorious collections of stars when I came across a faint patch of light that none of the current astronomy catalogs showed.  I watched this 'object' for awhile, and over a period of about 1/2 hour, I noticed that is was slowly moving to the north.  This was possibly an undiscovered comet!  Well, to make a long story short, I was in contact with the International Astronomical Union before too long and within the next day, they confirmed that this was a comet discovery!  I had found it none too soon, because just a few hours later, an amateur astronomer in Japan (Shigeki Murakami) also found it.  The name has officially become Comet Snyder-Murakami after the orbital elements were calculated by astronomers at the IAU . The comet also has the  designation of C/2002 E2.
This is such a rare and rewarding event, and I am still so overwhelmed at my luck in finding it.

Discovery story from Shigeki Murakami:

Website of Shigeki Murakami

 Syogo Utsunomiya - C/2002 F1

IAUC 7854 announced the visual discovery of a new comet, C/2002 F1 by Syogo Utsonomiya in morning twilight. The comet  showed a weak condensation, 1' coma and was 10.0 mag. The discoverer used a 25 x 150 binocular. The discovery was made on March 18th.

 Sebastian Hönig - C/2002 O4

Copyright Michael Jäger, taken on July 27th. 2002

Copyright Sebastian Hönig

IAUC 7939 
announced the discovery of a new comet, C/2002 O4. On July 22nd. Sebastian Hönig, Dossenheim, Germany discovered a new comet visually. 

Discovery story:

Discovery story: As accidental as it can be...

written in July 2002

This comet discovery was really amazing. I was systematically comet hunting for almost 5 years now but this discovery was as accidental as a comet can be found.

What to do when you can't sleep at night? Packing together your telescope and observing a bit. That's what I did Monday early morning. I drove to my favorite and well situated place in the Odenwald (altitude ~400m) where you have a terrible view to North and West but well skies to the East, South-East and South. The sky was very clear because clouds and rain have just passed by after a bad week with rain and flooded streets in Heidelberg. I was not prepared for any serious observations, I just wanted to have a look into the clear sky. After having mounted my MEADE 10'' Schmidt-Cassegrain-Telescope I started to initiate my goto-System. That works with correct geo-position, precise local time, flat alignment and one reference star. The alignment was not very well that night and the battery of the clock included in the keypad was off. Therefore I had to estimate time from Radio. After initiation I usually start to let the goto-System search for a known bright object – this time of year M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. The scope slewed to it and I looked into the 26mm eyepiece behind my focal reducer (giving me f/6.3, that means 64x or about 1 degree filed of view). Oops, the mounting was not very good, M31 was off the left edge. I didn't care because I wouldn't need correct slewing this night, I thought. This all took me around half an hour.
It was 02:00h local time (00:00h UT) when I started to look in the skies: The moon low in the West behind a small hill not disturbing the observations. I saw Andromeda and Pegasus high in the sky and remembered the good-old deep-sky days and decided to have a look at the Globular Clusters around. They are still the same as I have in mind. I started to slew the telescope a bit to the north – by the way: my telescope was mounted azimuthal - and something to the east. The scope stopped west of Sirrah, a bit north of the line between this star and beta Pergasi. I looked in the scope and saw a faint and diffuse object. There are some galaxies in this area I knew but as far as I remembered they are beyond 13 mag. I also knew no comet in this area although not looking specifically before going on the observation session – as I already mentioned, it was very spontaneous. I got a bit suspended. Should it be? A new comet? But not in this position. It was almost antisolar direction, the playground for NEAT and LINEAR. Anyhow I wanted to get the position what is not so easy when you do not have any sky maps or even a piece of paper. I took the RA and DEC from my goto-System, well knowing that these are not very good due to the poor mounting, especially in RA direction. In my car I found an empty bottle of water with a small paper label and a ball pen. This must be enough for a rough drawing of the brightest stars in my finder scope and the position of the comet.
I decided to waited 20 minutes without looking in the telescope to detect a possible motion. 20 minutes are long when you cannot do anything. I didn't want to move the scope because of the possibility to lose the object. The only thing I did was checking that the field of view shifts too much. After 20 minutes I saw the object had moved a bit. I took another eyepiece and removed the focal reducer to get a smaller FOV. How to describe a motion without having sykplots? As I am used to comet observations I decided to do the same like I sometimes estimate coma diameter: estimating the part of the FOV covered by the comets or here how what part it swept through. What I found was amazing: around 1' of motion in DEC direction and perhaps only a very small shift in RA. I repeated this estimation and thought the comet to be around 12mag with 2' coma diameter.
This should be enough data. I unmounted the telescope and packed it into my car. On my way home I had some silly doubts whether it was real, already known, etc. Al this made me very tired and I decided to have some sleep.
I woke up around 11a.m., had breakfast, did some necessary shopping and went back home to work on my last night's observation. First I determined the position of the object and put the data into the MPChecker. I thought the positions to be uncertain by 1 or perhaps 2 degree in RA and around 1 degree in DEC. Therefore I decided to set the MPChecking range to 5 degrees. Result: No known comet. Suddenly I felt adrenaline ejected by my body and my hands started to tremble. I had similar feelings when discovering my first SOHO comets but this time it was 100 times more intense. I checked for galaxies in the field but as I already knew they are too faint – and do not move at all! I redetermined the position and repeated the procedure. Finally I called my girlfriend and told her I think I have found something. She is not very used to astronomy yet but she was very surprised and urged me to send it to announce it. I hung in and wrote the email to the CBAT.

Dear CBAT Team,

I would like to report the following possible discovery of an unknown object found during my observations last night near Heidelberg, Germany:

Approximate Position: RA 23h 25' DEC 32° 40' at ~ 00:05:00 UT on Jul 22, 2002
Magnitude: ~ 12 mag
Object's appearance: cometary, about 2' coma diameter

The object showed a clear movement in DEC + direction (~1' in 20 minutes)

Obtained checks for known objects: optical reflexions, galaxies/nebulae down to 13 mag, MPChecker down to 15 mag, NEO Confirmation Page.

Telescope: 0.25-m Schmidt-Cassegrain, F=1760m, f/6.3 (focal reducer)

NOTE: The positions are probably not very good because I didn't have any material (skymaps, ...) with me. It was just a spontaneous observations session. I tried to figure the positions out of my goto-system with a poor draw of the sky around but the position might be off by 1 or perhaps even 2 degree.

I try to make a follow-up observation this night but I guess the clouds here will disturb this try.

Sebastian Hoenig

It was around 5p.m. and I called Maik Meyer at work to tell him what I have observed. He was quite surprised and I should tell him whatever happens.
Now the longest day begun. I knew that it would take some time but I didn't receive any message till the next day - Tuesday. I then decided to ask what the CBAT did with my observation. I also wrote emails to Alan Hale and Akimasa Nakamura to request confirmation. Alan soon responded and said he will use the clear sky he expected for the upcoming night to have a look at it. The only problem would be the strong moonlight that day and the uncertain position. I extrapolated new positions for the next night and sent it to him. When the evening came I tried to find the comet again but moon, clouds and haze disturbed my try.
On Wednesday morning I wrote to Carl Hergenrother who was the responsible person at CBAT these days that I could make a follow-up observation. He told me that he requested different observers for follow-ups but no one had contacted him so far. Alan Hale then wrote that he also could not find anything but that needn't to be a final statement due to the bad conditions. Akimasa Nakamura contacted me and told me that he has bad weather but forwarded my request to Ken-ichi Kadota. He was not very optimistic because moon would disturb and CCD covers a very small field of view.
Thursday was another waiting day for answers from Japan. I felt like the object would probably be lost. However Carl Hergenrother said I should not give up hope. Maybe it will be found by someone else and I would keep my credit as first discoverer.
On Friday I was looking forward to an Inline competition that should last 3 days: Friday 10km, Saturday 42km and Sunday 19.5km. Friday morning Maik called and asked what has happened so far. I told him of the negative replies and he suggested to contact Michael Jäger in Austria. Michael is the wold's most famous comet photographer and discoverer of comet C/1998 U3 (Jäger). I met him at the IWCA II in Cambridge, England in 1999. Maik told me his email addresses and I sent the request to him with new positions extrapolated from a 5 day old position and an estimated movement – not very convincing I think. I packed my bag and drove to the competition where I stayed over night.
On Saturday I skated the Marathon in new personal best time. I forgot all the things around the comet and drove to my father's home to sleep there. We had just finished dinner when my mobile phone rang. It was Maik, very suspending. "Your object is on the NEO Confirmation Page!" Oh my god, I thought and dialed in. I saw the object called "UnkHon", Unknown Hoenig, yes, that's mine. Somebody must have found it. I told my father but I think he didn't realize at this moment what has happened. Maik called again and told me that he wrote a request for confirmation of the NEOCP object to the Minor Planet Mailing List and many observers told him to have a look atf it. Only minutes later he called suspended and I think somewhat shocked: "You have a confirmation!" He got the image which was taken on 611 (Heppenheim), only 20 minutes away from my hometown Dossenheim. Again I thought "Oh my god!". Maik told me what this means: the first visual comet discovery from German ground since 1946. I never thought this faint and diffuse object would have historic dimensions...
I tried to call Michael Jäger but his wife told me that he is already away and has forgotten his mobile phone. I told her that it would not be necessary to search for the comet as I have receiver confirmation. Half an hour later Michael called me, also very suspended and happy: "Sebastian, I have found your object on 5 images!" I informed him what was going on. He was so lucky and promised to send me one of his photographs. Later Carl Hergenrother wrote that Ken-ichi Kadato was the one who recovered the comet.
I had only around two hours sleep and was so tired on Sunday. I got up at 7a.m. and saw the IAUC announcing my comet discovery. After seeing this my father recognized what this means. He vanished for some minutes and came back with a large bottle of champagne and some glasses for my discovery celebrations.
Finally I decided not to drive back to the last competition day due to the lack of sleep and some kind of poor motivation. Can image why? :)

I want to send my special thanks to some people who supported me in a special way to do this discovery (NO specific order!):
Carl Hergenrother for his kind replies on all of my emails
Alan Hale for his quick response and his try to observe the comet
Akimasa Nakamura and especially Ken-ichi Kadota who managed to recover the comet
Maik Meyer for his help and fast information on the development
Michael Jäger for his quick and successful attempt to image the new comet

And finally to my parents and my Grandmother for their everlasting support throughout the last years.

Kudo-Fujikawa - C/2002 X5

IAUC 8032 announced the discovery of a new comet, C/2002 X5. It was found visually by Tetuo Kudo with 20x120 binoculars at 9.5 mag. and a independent discovery by Shigehisa Fujikawa was reported with IAUC 8033.

Vello Tabur - C/2003 T3

[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.

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
Official notice of press (31 of August) of Harvard-Smithsonian for Center Astrophysics.

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. Discoverystory

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)


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 - C/2014 Q2

[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.