Thursday, July 31, 2008

Recovery of Comet 59P/Kearns-Kwee

This periodic comet, 59P/Kearns–Kwee, has been recovered by us, on 2008, July 28 & 29, during the Visnjan School of Astronomy, an educational project aimed at the introduction of young talented students into the field of astronomy, organized every year by the Visnjan Observatory .

Two consecutive nights of follow up, as recommended by the Minor Planet Center, has been secured by means of the remotely controlled Skylive-4 telescope (0-30m, f/6.3 reflector + CCD) located in Catania, Italy (B40 – Skylive Observatory, Catania). 59P has been picked-up in the morning sky in Aries, significantly fainter than predicted (about magnitude 19) but very close to the expected position. In our stackings it appears as a faint dot of light, slightly wider than the nearby field stars of similar brightness. At recovery the comet was located about 2.8 AU from both, Earth and Sun. According to the Minor Planet Center, the last time of its observation was 2000, March 9 (Kuma Kogen Observatory).

Our recovery image. Click on it for a bigger version:

Comet Kearns-Kwee belongs to the Jupiter family comets; its period is nearly 9.5 years; at perihelion (March 2009) it will get as close as 2.3 AU from our star (beyond the orbit of Mars) while at aphelion it reaches 6.6 AU from the Sun (beyond Jupiter).

According to the current ephemerids, comet Kearns-Kwee will reach its maximum brightness at perigee, on November 2008: at that time it will shine at about magnitude 14, very well located (for northern observers) in the autumn constellation of Triangulum.

Updated orbital elements and ephemerids are available, as always, at the Minor Planet Center website.

by G. Sostero, E. Guido, J. Piquard, D. Bektesevic and A. Galant

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