Thursday, April 2, 2020

New Comet C/2020 F2 (ATLAS)

CBET 4739 & MPEC 2020-G04, issued on 2020, April 01, announce the discovery of a comet by R. Wainscoat on CCD images obtained on Mar. 22.6 UT with the Pan-STARRS1 1.8-m Ritchey-Chretien reflector at Haleakala, which he then noticed (via posting at the Minor Planet Center's NEOCP webpage) was apparently identical with an apparently asteroidal object (magnitude ~19) discovered on CCD images taken the previous night with a 0.5-m f/2 Schmidt reflector at Haleakala, Hawaii, in the course of the "Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System" (ATLAS) search program. The new comet has been designated C/2020 F2 (ATLAS).

I performed follow-up measurements of this object while it was still on the PCCP webpage. Stacking of 15 unfiltered exposures, 120-sec each, obtained remotely, from Telescope Live (El Sauce, Chile) on 2020, March 25.3, through 0.6-m f/6.5 astrograph + CCD, shows that this object appears slightly diffuse compared to the nearby field stars of similar brightness.

My confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version)

The following orbital elements by S. Nakano, Sumoto, Japan, are from 119 observations spanning 2019 May 27-2020 Apr. 1 (mean residual 0".30); prediscovery images were found by R. Weryk (F51); the corresponding original and future values of 1/a are +0.000016 and -0.000016 AU**-1, respectively.  The comet passed 2.89 AU from Saturn on 2018 Mar. 12 UT.

     Epoch = 2022 June 30.0 TT
     T = 2022 July 15.84933 TT        Peri. =  48.37394
     e = 1.0054516                    Node  = 250.27242 2000.0
     q = 8.8153702 AU                 Incl. = 163.58534

by Ernesto Guido

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