Friday, February 3, 2012

New Comet: P/2011 VJ5 (LEMMON)

Cbet nr.3010, issued on 2012, February 03, announces the discovery of a new comet (discovery magnitude 18.5) by R. E. Hill on CCD images obtained on February 01.4, 2012 taken with the Catalina Sky Survey's 0.68-m Schmidt telescope. The new comet has been designated P/2011 VJ5 (LEMMON)

T. Spahr, Minor Planet Center, noted that this object appears identical to an apparently asteroidal object discovered by the Mount Lemmon Survey on Nov. 3 (observer R. Kowalski; discovery observations tabulated below) and then designated 2011 VJ5.

We performed some follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 8 R-filtered exposures, 30-sec each, obtained remotely, from the Haleakala-Faulkes Telescope North on 2012, Feb.1.6, through a 2.0-m f/10.0 Ritchey-Chretien + CCD, under good seeing conditions, shows that this object is a comet: compact coma nearly 3" in diameter with a sharp central condensation, and a tail about 20" long in PA 292.

Our confirmation image (click on the image for a bigger version):

M.P.E.C. 2012-C14 assignes the following preliminary orbital elements to comet P/2011 VJ5: T 2011 Dec. 8.7; e= 0.55; Peri. = 315.12; q = 1.50 AU; Incl.= 3.97

by Giovanni Sostero, Alison Tripp, Nick Howes & Ernesto Guido

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