Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Comet C/2009 P2 (BOATTINI)

IAU Circular nr.9063, issued on 2009, Aug. 18, announces the discovery of a new comet by Andrea Boattini, named C/2009 P2 (BOATTINI). It was found in the within Pegasus, with the 0.68-m schmidt of the "Catalina Sky Survey" on 2008, Aug 15.4. Afterwards this object has been posted on the NEO-CP with the ID code of "9P1083D", in search of follow-up observations. Then, several astrometrists provided positive feedbacks about its cometary nature.

We first picked up this object on 2009, Aug. 17.4 remotely, from the Mayhill (NM) station of the Global Rent a Scope network. Unfortunately, of the 10 unfiltered exposures, 120-sec each we obtained through a 0.25-m, f/3.4 reflector + CCD, only a few were usable, because the object was merging with a field star. Under those circumstances, we could only obtain an astrometric position, with no clues about its nature because in our stacking we had not enough signal/noise to discriminate if it was an asteroid or a little comet.

We were more lucky on Aug. 18.3, when we were able to secure 20 unfiltered exposures, 120-sec each, by means of the same instrumentation. After careful image processing, it was clear to us that the object was not showing a stellar aspect: comparison of its FWHM profile with that of nearby field stars, was consistently showing higher values; the reason of this difference was the presence of a tiny coma, about 8 arcsec in diameter, with a slight elongation toward south-west.

Our image is available here:

Preliminary orbital elements were published on M.P.E.C. 2009-Q1

according to the data published so far by the Minor Planet Center, this object is moving along a parabolic (e=1), retrograde (i= 164 deg) orbit, with a perihelion at about 6 AU, that will be reached in July 2010. At about that time, it will reach a maximum magnitude of m1 about 17.4.

by E. Guido, G. Sostero, P. Camilleri, E. Prosperi

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