Wednesday, October 1, 2008


IAUC nr. 8986, published on 2008, Sept.30, announces the discovery of a comet by Andrea Boattini, named C/2008 S3 (BOATTINI). It has been found in Taurus, during the Catalina Sky Survey search, with a 1.5-m reflector. The discoverer reported a coma having a strong condensation and a coma about 10-arcsec in diameter, elongated toward PA 115-deg, with total magnitude about 18.5. After its posting on the Minor Planet Center's NEO-Confirmation Page, several observers confirmed its cometary nature.

We imaged it remptely from Mayhill (NM) through a 0.25-m, f/3.4 reflector + CCD around Sept. 30.4 (details on image; click on it for a bigger version):

Preliminary orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center on M.P.E.C. 2008-S96 assume a parabolic retrograde orbit with perihelion on April 2011 (e=1, q~ 3.1 AU, i~ 158 deg). It's noteworthy the fact that the comet has been discovered to be active at about 8.3 AU from the Sun; this seems to indicate a rather "alive" object also at relatively high distances from our star.

Maxim brightness is supposed to be reached in the Summer of 2011, at about magnitude 12 (well placed in the sky for both hemispheres); obviously all the previous extrapolations are based on measurements conducted upon a very short arc of orbit, so they must be confirmed by further astrometric and photometric follow-up.

by Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero and Paul Camilleri

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