Sunday, March 15, 2009

New comet C/2009 E1 (ITAGAKI)

M.P.E.C. 2009-E68  issued on 2009 March 15, announced the discovery by K. Itagaki of a new comet:

We performed some follow-up of this object while it was posted in the NEO-CP.

Since the candidate was too low to be imaged from the Remanzacco Observatory (MPC #473), on 2009, Mar. 15.1 we connected to the GRAS network, and imaged it remotely from Mayhill (NM), details on image:

The initial stacking produced a trailed image of the central condensation, because the expected proper motion was slightly off. After some trials, we found the suitable speed and PA able to produce a sharp image of the comet.

Stacking our frames (co-adding of 30 unfiltered exposure, 30 seconds each) we noticed an obvious comet, with a central condensation having about magnitude 14.6 (unfiltered R), a bright inner coma, having a diameter of about 1.4 arcmin, and faint external halo nearly 4 arcmin in diameter, slightly elongated toward South-West. The total magnitude m1 we measured was about about 11.0 (unfiltered R).

From the preliminary orbital elements published by the MPC:

we understand that this comet moves along a parabolic, retrograde, orbit (i= 126 deg, q= 0.6 AU). Perihelion will be reached in the beginning of next April 2009, with m1 about 10. Unfortunalety comet ITAGAKI will stay at small elongation from the Sun, so it will be a difficult object to be observed.

K. Itagaki found it from his private observatory of Takanezawa-Tochigidi with a 0,2-m f/3, reflector + CCD camera at (about) 09h UT on 2009, March, 14.

Congratulations to Itagaky-san for his nice gift: there are still some opportunities for dedicated amateur comet catchers, in spite of the professional surveys!

by Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero e Paul Camilleri 
(AFAM, Osservatorio di Remanzacco)

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