Saturday, August 2, 2008

Comet C/2008 O2 (MCNaught)

This object was insert in the NEO-CP on 2008, July 28.6 with the ID code 8O56129. We performed some follow up from different sites: initially we imaged it on Jul. 28.9 with the Skylive-4 (0.3-m, f/6.3 reflector + CCD) scope (near Catania, Italy, MPC#B40). Since the sky conditions were not so good, we were unable to define for sure its nature (asteroid or comet?) so we decided to submit to the MPC only a couple of lines about its astrometric positions.

Afterward we picked it up on 29.1 from the private observatory of one of us (Gustavo Muler, Lanzarote, Spain, MPC#J47): here the stackings obtained through a 0.3-m schmidt-cassegrain + CCD clearly shown the presence of a small compact coma about 12 arcsec in diameter, and a short tail, nearly 30 arcsec long, toward PA 255; the total magnitude of this comet has been measured at 17.7. Then we performed some further follow-up on July 29.3 by means of a 0.25-m, f/3.3 reflector + CCD of the the RAS network (near Mayhill, NM, MPC#H06): here Ernesto confirmed the presence of a small tail about 25 arcsec long toward South-West.

Furthermore we observed it on on Jul. 30.6 with the Skylive-5 (0.3-m, reflector + CCD) scope (Grove Creek observatory, near Sidney, Australia, MPC#E16), obtaining additional astrometry.

According to the currently available orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (, comet C/2008 O2 moves along an parabolic orbit. If the current (preliminary) orbital solution will be confirmed, this new comet McNaught will reach perihelion in 2009 November; at maximum magnitude it is expected to be a pretty binocular object, well placed for northern observers.

The picture of Gustavo Muler is available here (details on image):

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

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