Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Comet C/2010 F4 (MACHHOLZ)

IAU circular No. 9132, issued on 2010, March 26, announces the visual discovery by Don Machholz of a comet (the magnitude given as 11.5-12) on Mar. 23 using a 47-cm reflector in the course of his comet-hunting program, designated C/2010 F4 (MACHHOLZ). After posting on the Minor Planet Center's 'NEOCP' webpage, three Japanese amateurs have reported confirmation of the new comet.

This is the 11th visual comet discovery for Machholz, who had searched 607 hours since his last discovery C/2004 Q2. Before this the last visual comet discovery was P/2006 T1 (Levy). This is also the second amateur discovery of 2010, after the faint P/2010 E2 (Jarnac)

(Credit: T. Greiner)

The first and preliminary orbit for comet C/2010 F4 (MACHHOLZ) indicates perihelion on Apr. 05, 2010, at about 0.6 AU. Comet C/2010 F4 (Machholz) is currently 11th magnitude and probably it will not get much brighter. According to the preliminary orbit the comet will be in conjunction with the Sun in early April, and although in the evening sky thereafter it will be at a small elongation and so it will probably be lost in the Sun's glare after mid-April.

The full discovery story is online on Don's website.

Congratulations to Don for this great achievement in these times of professional survey programs and spacecrafts!!!

by Ernesto Guido

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