Friday, August 29, 2008

New Comet C/2008 Q1 (MATICIC)

IAU Circular nr.8966, issued on 2008, August 20, announces the discovery by Stanislav Maticic of a new comet, named C/2008 Q1 (MATICIC).

The comet was discovered in the course of the Comet and Asteroid Search Program at Crni Vrh Observatory and reported as "a moving object of stellar appearance" about magnitude 18. After posting on the Minor Planet Center's 'NEOCP' webpage (designation 88I0001), several observers found this object to show cometary appearance.

Initially we observed it from MPC#B55 (Comeglians) on 2008 Aug. 19.8, through a 0.15-m, f/6 astrograph + CCD: in our stackings we found it rather "soft", compared to nearby field stars of similar brightness, with a possible appendage toward about East:

however due to the fact that the S/N of the image was not so high, we decided to collect some further observations, in order to discriminate about its possible cometary nature.

Then we observed it again from MPC#473 (Remanzacco) on Aug. 20.8, through a 0.45-m f/4.4 Newtonian reflector + CCD. This time the cometary nature of the object was clear: co-adding of 16 unfiltered exposures, 60 seconds each, showed that this object had a coma, with a diameter of about 10 arcsec, and a broad tail nearly 15 arcsec toward PA 122deg.

Our stacking is available here (details on image):

Preliminary orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center in M.P.E.C. 2008-Q30 ( assumes that this object moves along a parabolic orbit (i= 119 deg, q= 2.9 AU); perihelion will be reached at the end of December 2008. According the current ephemerids, this comet will reach its maximum brightness next April (m1~ 17.0).

Congratulations to Stanislav Maticic and to all the team at Crni Vrh Observatory.

by Virgilio Gonano, Ernesto Guido and Giovanni Sostero

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