New User

Welcome to AOAS.ORG
Saturday, October 24 2020 @ 10:10 am EDT

Comets On The Doorstep - Where Once There Were Two, Now There Are THREE !

Lunar & Planetary
Comet 2002 T7
Mike Holloway 2003
Comet - Small Solar System body, consisting of frozen volatiles and dust. Comets are believed to be icy planetesimals remaining from the time of the Solar System's formation 4.6 billion years ago. The word "comet" derives from the Greek kometes, a long-haired star, which aptly describes brighter examples.

Source - Oxford Astronomy Encyclopedia, 2002: Philip's (Division of Octopus Pub) p. 89-91

If all goes well, a pair of bright comets may grace our skies in late April through May, and one may linger into the early summer. Not since Comet Hyakutake in 1996 and Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997 have there been such bright comets well placed for viewing. These "small Solar System bodies" are known as C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) and C/2002 T7 (LINEAR).

Now, add comet C/2004 F4 Bradfield to the mix. Bradfield has just recently been discovered by 76 year old Australian amateur astronomer William A. Bradfield in March, but wasn't officially named until April12th. Bradfiled adds this to his previous 17 comet discoveries since 1972.

Comet Bradfield was not visible to this observer the morning of April 25 at approximately 5:30-6:00 am. Estimates are that it was at magnitude 4.4 today, and that it will dim by 1/2 magnitude per every 2 days over the next week, making it nearly impossible to find without binoculars. See the Astronomy Picture of the Day for April 27 for a time-lapse image of Bradfield rising at: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html

Comet 2001 Q4
Terry Lovejoy 2002
C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) Discovered at a dim 20th magnitude on August 24, 2001, this comet is named for the automated observing program which discovered it, the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) survey program.

Comet NEAT will pass within 0.32 AU of Earth on May 6, about 30 million miles away. It will not be visible to northern observers until mid-May and into June, but at it's closest point to the Sun (perihelion) on May 15, it may be as bright as 2nd magnitude at a distance of nearly 90 million miles from the Sun. By the end of May NEAT continues to move and change rapidly, passing near the Big Dipper at the end of May as a dimmer 5th magnitude object. This comet is a first-time visitor to the inner solar system.

C/2002 T7 (LINEAR) Discovered on October 14, 2002, the Lincoln Laboratory Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey first mis-identified this object as an asteroid. Further observations nearly two weeks later revealed it to be a comet beginning to outgas its volatile elements and form a coma at an estimated distance of just over 600 million miles. "T7" as it is better known, is the subject of intense study by AOAS member Mike Holloway from his home observatory about 12 miles NW of Van Buren, AR. T7 is just past its conjunction with the Sun, and was expected to brighten to an estimated 2nd magnitude around it's perihelion on April 23 at about 60 million miles from the Sun, and visible for a few days in the morning skies. T7 will be brightest for Earthly observers around May 19th when it will lie only 25 million miles from Earth and returns to the evening skies

See the links at the end of this story for images from Mike Holloway and other observers from around the world in their observations of these three bright comets. >

AOAS will host public outings to view the night sky the evenings of May 21st AND 22nd at Carol Ann Cross park on 74th Street, about 1 mile N. of Rogers at St Edwards Hospital. The observing is for the public, in association with Ft Smith City Parks, and is always FREE of charge. Make plans to bring your family and join members of AOAS for "the view of a lifetime"!


Arkansas Sky Observatory
Mike Holloway's page
Comet Q4 Observer Terry Lovejoy
Comet T7 - NASA/JPL
Comet Q4 - NASA/JPL
Comet Bradfield
Sky & Telescope
Comets On The Doorstep - Where Once There Were Two, Now There Are THREE ! | 0 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

User Functions

Lost your password?

What's New


No new stories

COMMENTS last 2 days

No new comments

LINKS last 2 weeks

No recent new links

Want It ALL?

Become a card-carrying member of AOAS. Paying dues gives you several advantages over other registered users, including a subscription to the club newsletter, an AOAS.ORG e-mail address, use of club materials, including books and telescopes, and access to the Coleman Observatory facilities. On top of all that, you also qualify for a 20% discount on all books at any Books-A-Million location.

To get your membership application, click here.