Friday, July 8, 2011

New Comet: C/2011 N2 (McNAUGHT)

IAUC nr.9220, issued on 2011, July 07, announces the discovery of a new comet (discovery magnitude 17.9) by R. H. McNaught with the 0.5-m Uppsala Schmidt telescope at Siding Spring, on images obtained on 2011, July 04.46. McNaught reported "the object shows a 10" circular coma with moderate condensation". The new comet has been designated C/2011 N2 (McNAUGHT).

This object was found to show cometary appearance by our team after initial posting on the Minor Planet Center's 'NEOCP' webpage. We performed some follow-up measurements of this object with the Faulkes-Telescope South while it was still listed in the NEOCP.

"Faulkes Telescope Project" recently introduced a new "Exciting Targets" section in its educational program. Thanks to this project, the schools participating in the Faulkes project can contribute real science using their observing time to image interesting objects on behalf of the astronomers.

We are grateful to the "Ryton Comprehensive School" for taking up our request to image this object, allowing us to use their images along with our own to reveal the cometary nature of this body.

Analysis of Bessel-R filtered exposures, 20-sec each, obtained remotely, from the Faulkes Telescope South on 2011, July 5.4, through a 2.0-m f/10.0 Ritchey-Chretien + CCD, shows that this object is comet: diffuse coma at least 5" in diameter, possibly elongated along a north-south direction.

Our confirming image (click for a bigger version):

M.P.E.C. 2011-N31 assignes the following preliminary orbital elements to comet C/2011 N2: T 2011 Oct. 9.79; e= 1.0; Peri. =353.29; q = 2.69 AU; Incl.=34.89

C/2011 N2 is the 63th comet discovery for R. H. McNaught!!

by G. Sostero, N. Howes, E. Guido & Ryton Comprehensive School

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