Comet discoverers & Comet discoveries by amateurs

1978 - 1999

Last update:  18. March 2017

Discoveries from 2000 to 2009
Discoveries 2010 to now

The golden age of visual comet discoveries. Although there were already professional surveys, amateur comet observers scanned the sky with small telescopes and discovered many new comets. Only few amateurs used telescopes or photo lenses to scan the sky for comets.

Comets discovered by Don Machholz:

In 1990, with a total of 10 discoveries,  3 were discovered by amateurs:

In 1991, with a total of 22 discoveries,  6 were discovered by amateurs:

In 1992, with a total of 13 discoveries,  7 were discovered by amateurs:

In 1993, with a total of 10 discoveries,  1 were discovered by amateurs:

In 1994, with a total of 11 discoveries,  6 were discovered by amateurs:

In 1995, with a total of 6 discoveries,  4 were discovered by amateurs:

In 1996, with a total of 44 discoveries,  4 were discovered by amateurs:




Kazimieras Cernis - Tsuruhiko Kiuchi - Yuji Nakamura - C/1990 E1

IAUC 4980 announced a new comet discovery on March 14 by Kazimieras Cernis from Vilnius,Lithuania with his 120 mm f/5 refractor (magnification X35, FOV 2 deg) observing near Vilnius, Lithuania (more exactly, in Lavariskes, 25 km to east from Vilnius).

Two days later independent discoveries where made visually by two Japanese amateurs, Tsuruhiko Kiuchi with a 25x150 binocular and Yuji Nakamura with a 20x120 binocular. The comet was also confirmed by Alan Hale(USA). At the moment of the discovery the comet appeared like a diffuse object of 9th mag and 2’ diameter. The comet reached a peak of 8 mag. during that apparition.

Comment from Kazimieras Cernis:

I used 631 hours of visual searching (during 358 nights, from discovery of comet C/1983 O1)

Copyright Jim Pryal 1990-Mar-28

Kazimieras Cernis (b.1958) the discovery of C/1990E1 was the 3rd. for him after the discoveries of C/1980 O1 and C/1983 O1.

David H. Levy - C/1990 K1

Another comet discovery for David H. Levy was announced on IAUC 5017 on 1990 May 20 during his comet hunting with his 0,41m f/5 reflector. Alan Hale (Las Cruces, USA) with his 0,4m reflector and Charles Morris (Pine Mountain Club, USA) with his 0,26m reflector confirmed the discovery the day after. At the moment of the discovery the comet was estimate of 9-10 mag, well condensed and a coma of 1-2’. The comet reached a peak of 4th. mag in late summer.

Copyright Wendee Levy

 Copyright Michael Jäger 25-08-1990

Tsuchiya-Kiuchi - C/1990 N1

IAUC 5052 announced a new comet discovery on July 13, 1990N1, by Kiyoshi Tsuchiya (Asahikawa, Hokkaido) with a f/4 camera + T-Max film and Tsuruhiko Kiuchi (Usuda, Nagano) with a 25x150 binoculars. The comet appeared of 8/9 mag at the moment of the discovery.

Coypright Gerald Rhemann 23-10-1990

Tsuruhiko Kiuchi (b.1954)  is a comet-researcher from Usuda-machi, Minamisaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture. This discovery is the 2nd. for him here an interview of his typical day, an intensive day divide by work and comet hunting:
"Look more closely from farther away. That is my way of thinking." 
Kiuchi's daily regimen starts at 7 a.m. He has to be in his office at 7:30. He departs for his workshop between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. This workshop is like a child's secret club house, a sanctuary in which he can relax and enjoy the moment. Upon returning home, he bathes, finishes his evening meal, and then goes out to star-gaze. The normal routine for his observation runs from an hour and a half after sunset until an hour and a half before sunrise. He only takes breaks or is unable to make his observations during inclement weather, on days when he has to give lectures, and during the five-day cycle of the full moon. Aside from these restrictions, he performs his observations every day.

Howard Brewington - 97P/Metcalf-Brewington

On Jan 7 Howard Brewington (Cloudcroft, USA) discovered is second comet, 1991A1, during his session of comet hunting with his 0,41m reflector (IAUC 5155). The comet was rapidly confirmed by Alan Hale with a 0,20m reflector. As reported on IAUC 5159 the comet was independently discovered also by Tsuruhiko Kiuchi (Usuda, Japan) with his 25x150 binocular and William Bradfield(near Adelaide, Australia). All observer estimated the comet around 9 mag.

B. G. Marsden, Center for Astrophysics, notes that preliminary orbital elements from the above observations strongly resemble those of P/Metcalf (1906 VI). Consequently the comet was numbered 97P/Metcalf-Brewington.

Howard Brewington with his personal observatory near Cloudcroft, New Mexico

He was born in 1952 in South Carolina. For years he visually sweeping the night sky with his home-built reflecting telescopes, his first comet was C/1989W1 discovered from South Carolina. To improve his chances of additional finds, he moved to southern New Mexico in the fall of 1990 and built a comet hunting observatory on a mountain ridge east of Cloudcroft.  From 1991 to 1996, the relocation issued four more visual discoveries (97P,C/1991Y1,154P, 1996N1). Brewington prophesied the end of visual comet discoveries and wrote about it in the Summer 1995 issue of CCD Astronomy magazine in an article titled "The Future of Comet Hunting”. Brewington stopped comet hunting in 1999, moved back to South Carolina, and enrolled at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. He graduated with honors in the summer of 2002 and was hired by year's end as a 2.5-meter telescope operator through the Astronomy Department of New Mexico State University. From 2002 to 2015, he worked at the Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Brewington, now retired, lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  He is a member of the Astronomical Society of Las Cruces and often attends national star parties.

Masaru Arai - C/1991 A2

IAUC 5157 announced a new comet discovery, C/1991A2, by Masaru Arai (Yorii, Japan) on Jan 5. From an image taken with a 0.16m reflector. The comet appeared diffuse with central condensation with a total magnitude around 12. The comet was confirmed by R. McNaught (Siding Spring, Australia).

Masaru Arai (b.1952) is a prolific discoverer of asteroids with a total of 45 discoveries in collaboration with Hiroshi Mori.

David H. Levy - C/1991 L3

IAUC 5291 announced another comet discovery for David H. Levy (Tucson, USA) on June 14th with his 0,41m f/5 reflector. The comet showed a 3’ coma and a 8th. magnitude. This object turned to be a periodic comet and will return around 2042. As suggested by Levy on his book, the comet is parent of the August pavonid meteor shower. According to Levy there is a possibility that it may be the same as the comet of 1499. In that year Chinese and Korean observers observed a comet pas from Hercules through Draco, and the Little an Big Dippers.

Copyright Michael Jäger 1991 June 23

Mauro Vittorio Zanotta - Howard J. Brewington - C/1991 Y1

A new comet was discovered on Dec 23rd. by Italian amateur Mauro Vittorio Zanotta (Como, Italy) with his 0,15m reflector. The comet was also detected by Howard Brewington with his 0,41m telescope as reported on IAUC 5412. The comet was confirmed by David H. Levy, reporting a little object brighter than 10th. magnitude and moderately condensed, while independent discovery were made by T. Kojima on Dec 24th.

Copyright H. Mikuz 1991 Dec. 30.753UT

William Bradfield - C/1992 B2

William Bradfield (Australia) discovered his 15th comet on January 31.74 as reported on IAUC 5442. The comet was found in the morning sky, on the borders of Scorpius, Lupus and Norma as it was brightening on its way to perihelion. Of 10 magnitude, it was diffuse and without condensation. Paul Camilleri of Cobram, Victoria, Australia found images of it on pre-discovery Kodak T-Max 400 plates taken with an 85 mm lens on Jan 30.7. Albert Jones observed the comet on 1992 February 13.7, making it 10.1 in his 0.32-m reflector. Cometary activity evidently decreased rapidly as the comet approached perihelion as it should have been around 7m at this time. Poor observations were made for this comet.

Zenichi Tanaka - Donald E. Machholz - C/1992 F1

Don Machholz (Colfax, USA) reported the discovery of a probable 10 mag. comet to the CBAT on March 31st and the estimated daily motion indicated a possible identity with another object reported to the bureau on March 27th. This object had been discovered by Zenichi Tanaka (Yodoe, Japan) on March 24th, but an incorrect daily motion was given (IAUC 5487). The comet was also confirmed by Alan Hale on April 1st. At discovery it was moving north in the morning sky in Pegasus and passed through Andromeda in mid April on its way to perihelion on April 22nd.

Copyright H. Mikuz, 1992 Apr. 12.114UT

William Bradfield - C/1992 J2

William Bradfield discovered his 16th comet, a 10 magnitude diffuse object without central condensation on May 3.81 as reported on IAUC 5514. The comet was in the morning sky, moving east in Cetus, and brightening towards perihelion on May 25th. Its solar elongation decreased and few observations of it were made. Only 10 astrometric positions were obtained, the last taken on June 4th.

Donald E. Machholz - C/1992 N1

Donald  Machholz discovered his sixth comet, a diffuse 9 mag. object with condensation, using 27x120 binoculars on July 2.46 as reported on IAUC 5553. The comet was in the morning sky, moving SE on the Perseus/Auriga border and had been brightening on its way towards perihelion. The comet was possibly within discovery range for most of the previous month. No section observations were received as the solar elongation was poor and it faded after discovery.

Howard J. Brewington - P/1992 Q1

Howard J. Brewington reports the discovery of his fourth comet with his 0,41m reflector on August 28th. The comet appeared very small, diffuse and around 10 magnitude. Brewington had spent 99 hours comet hunting before finding this comet. As reported on IAUC 5596 the comet was confirmed by A. Sugie and T. Kojima from Japan. The first published orbit came on September 1st., when B. G. Marsden calculated a parabolic orbit using 11 positions from August 28 to 31. The perihelion date was given as 1992 June 20.97. Marsden considered the orbit "somewhat uncertain." Following S. Nakano's (Sumoto, Japan) remark "that the comet is evidently of short period", Marsden calculated an elliptical orbit that was published on September 27th. Using 18 positions obtained during the period of August 28th to September 26th., he determined the perihelion date as June 4.05 and the period as 8.65 years. Syuichi Nakano published a new orbit, he took 82 positions obtained during the period spanning 1992 August 28th. to 1993 March 30th and applied perturbations by planets and minor planets, the result was that the comet passed perihelion on 1992 June 7.79. Nakano then integrated the motion forward and predicted the comet would next arrive at perihelion on 2003 February 18.84. This comet was recovered by Fernanda Artigue, Herbert Cucurullo, and Gonzalo Tancredi (Molinos Astronomical Observatory, Montevideo, Uruguay) on 2002 August 26.98; so the comet was numbered as 154P/Brewington.

Copyright Norbert Mrozek 1992 September 26


IAUC 5620 reported a new comet discovery on September 26th. by Tsuruhiko Kiuchi, with the suggestion that it might be P/Swift-Tuttle with perihelion time in mid-December. Kiuchi used a 25x150 binoculars and described the comet diffuse without condensation with a coma of 4'. Confirmation of the discovery by several observers in Canada, the U.S. and Japan leaves no doubt that this identification with the Perseid parent comet is correct. The identification in turn confirms the suggestion that Kegler's 1737 observations were indeed of P/Swift-Tuttle. Finally the comet was linked with 1737 II- 1862 III, so was recalled 109P/Swift-Tuttle.

Copyright Misunori Tsumura

Nobuo Oshita - C/1992 W1

Nobuo Ohshita (Furukawa-machi, Japan) discovered an 11 mag. comet with 25x150B on November 24.85 and confirmed it with images taken with a telephoto lens on T-Max film on November 28.8 - 30.8 IAUC 5668 (Iauc 5668). The comet was moving NE in Virgo as it emerged from conjunction in the morning sky and faded after discovery. No visual observations of this comet were obtained.

Yoshio Kushida - Osamu Muramatsu - P/1993 X1

IAUC 5903 announced a new comet discovery on December 8.7UT, 1993X1, by Yoshio Kushida and Osamu Muramatsu of Yatsugatake South Base Observatory, Japan, during a photographically session of comet hunter using a 0,25m reflector. At discovery the comet was moving east and was diffuse with a central condensation and a coma of about 1'-2' diameter and a magnitude of 16,5. Several Japanese astronomer (T. Kojima, T. Urata , A. Nakamura T. Kobayashi) confirmed the comet during the following days.

The comet was recovered on 2000 October 3.72, when T. Oribe (Saji Observatory) obtained CCD images with the 103-cm reflector, and sub sequentially was numbered 147P/Kushida-Muramatsu.

Yoshio Kushida (b.1957) is a seismologist and amateur astronomer. Is a prolific asteroid discoverer with a total of 56 and also discovered two periodic comets (144P,147P).
Osamu Muramatsu
(b.1949). He worked at the planetarium of Sibuya, he is also an amateur astronomer. He discovered the periodic comet 147P and 71 asteroid, more of them with Y. Kushida.

Copyright Misunori Tsumura

Yoshio Kushida - C/1994 A1

Yoshio Kushida discovered his second comet on January 8.8UT with a 0.10-m f/4.0 patrol camera. The comet appeared with a strong central condensation with coma diameter about 1'-2'. The comet was estimate about 12/13 magnitude and was confirmed by several Japanese astronomer including T.Kojima, T. Urata and A. Nakamura. (IAUC 5918)
The comet's next perihelion date was 2001 June 27 and it was recovered by C. E. Delahodde and O. R. Hainaut (European Southern Observatory, La Silla) on 2000 July 25. After this the comet was numbered as 144P/Kushida.

Kesao Takamizawa - David H. Levy - C/1994 G1

Kesao Takamizawa and David H. Levy report their discoveries of what appears to be the same comet observed between April 14-15. K. Takamizawa (Saku-cho, Japan). Estimated of 12.5 magniutde on his two 4-min photographic films, taken with a 0.10-m f/4.0 camera. The comet appeared diffu with central condensation and coma diameter about 1'. David H. Levy (Tucson, USA) observed the object visually with his 0,41m reflector. (IAUC 5974)

Copyright Norbert Mrozek 1994 May 13

Kesao Takamizawa - C/1994 J2

Kesao Takamizawa discovered his 4th and last comet on 1994 May 6.7 UT with a 0.10-m f/4.0 patrol camera. The comet appeared of 11 magnitude with a strong central condensation and coma diameter about 1'. (IAUC 5986)

Coyright H. Mikuz, 1994 May. 27.883 UT

Masamitsu Nakamura - Hideo Nishimura - Donald E. Machholz - C/1994 N1

IAUC 6013 announced a new comet discovered by three amateur astronomers:
Masamitsu Nakamura
(Hamamatsu, Shizuoka-Ken, Japan) and Hideo Nishimura (Kakegawa, Shizuoka-Ken, Japan) discovered the comet with a 25x150 binoculars independently on July 5.7UT. They estimated the object of 9 mag. and a coma of 2,5’(Nishimura) and 5’(Nakamura). Donald Machholz (Colfax, USA) discovered the comet on July 6.4UT with his 27x120, he estimated about 10.5 magnitude.

Copyright Norbert Mrozek 1994 August 4

Donald E. Machholz - P/1994 P1

Donald E. Machholz discovered another comet visually with a 0.25m reflector on August 13th. He estimated about 10 mag. with little condensation and a coma diameter of 3’-4’(IAUC 6053). The comet was confirmed by T. Kojima. Michael Jäger (Vienna, Austria) reported his discovery of a second comet just 48 arc minutes from comet Machholz 2 on August 28.04. He said it appeared to have the same motion as Machholz and estimated the magnitude as 11. This comet continued being observed during the days that followed. Fourth and fifth objects were found by Pravec on September 4.1 and confirmed elsewhere. Letter designations were assigned to the 5 comets on September 21. The primary comet was the most westward and was designated "A". Working eastward, "B" was the fourth comet found, "C" was the third comet, "D" was the second comet, and "E" was the fifth comet. Interestingly, Pravec reported that CCD images obtained on October 5.14 indicated "D" exhibited two condensations within its coma. The comet return again on 1999 with only fragment “A” and later was recovered the fragment “D”, so it was numbered as 141P.

Donald E. Machholz - C/1994 T1

Donald E. Machholz reported his 3rd. visual discovery of a comet in 1994! (IAUC 6091) The comet was discovered on October 8.5 UT with his 0,25m f/3.8 reflector. He estimated as a diffuse object of 11.5 mag with weak condensation.

Copyright Marcus Richert, Uwe Wohlrab

Alan Hale - Thomas Bopp - C/1995 O1

Independent reports of the visual discoveries of a new comet have been received from Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp (IAUC 6187). All observers note the comet (estimated around 10/11 mag) to be diffuse with some condensation and no tail, motion toward the west- northwest. Alan Hale (Cloudcroft, USA) found the comet with his 0.41-m reflector while Thomas Bopp (near Stanfield, USA) discovered the comet with a 0.44-m f/4.5 Dobsonian during a star party while observing M70. The comet turned to be one of the brightest of the century and was visible for a very long time between 1995-1998. The comet reached perihelion on 1997 April 1st. and studies revealed a nuclear of 60km!

Copyright Gerald Rhemann

William A. Bradfield - C/1995 Q1

William A. Bradfield of Dernancourt (Australia) discovered his seventeenth comet, a 6 mag. object with a tail over 1° long, on August 17.4 IAUC 6206. The comet was in Crater, two weeks from perihelion, and was well placed for some time prior to discovery.

Copyright: Michael Jäger

Yuji Hyakutake - C/1995 Y1

IAUC 6279 announced the discovery of a new comet by Yuji Hyakutake (Hayato, Aira-gun, Kagoshima-ken) on December 25, with a 25x150 binoculars. The comet appeared diffuse with coma diameter of 3'.5 and total mag of 10th. The comet was observed in twilight while further confirmations arrived by T. Kojima and Y. Kushida.

Yuji Hyakutake (July 7, 1950, Shimabara, Nagasaki – April 10, 2002, Kagoshima)

Edward W. Szczepanski - C/1996 B1

IAUC 6296 announced the discovery of a new comet, C/1996 B1, on January 27 by Edward W. Szczepanski (Houston,USA) with 0.10-m refractor and 300-mm camera lens after 50-min exposures. The comet appeared diffuse of 10.5 mag.

Information about discovery story were written by D.H Levy on Sky and Telescope, May 1998:

“…E. Szczepanski is a Lawyer, specializing in maritime law. He also a complished astrophotographer and telescope maker. One day in January 1996 he was perusing old astronomy magazines during his lunch break when an article I wrote on comet hunting caught his attention. As he red he wondered what it would be like to discoverer a comet. That evening Szczepanski drove out to the Houston Astronomical Societys observory site near Columbus for a solitary astrophotography session. He set up is 4-inch Takahashi refractor and, with Kodak Technical Pan 2415 film, began imaging deep-sky object. M101, the huge spiral galaxy north of Bug Dipper’s handle, was the last one on his list. When he developed his film the following day, he was surprised to see the trailed image of a 10th magnitude fuzzy object ½° south of M101. He immediately reported it to the IAU's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams…”

Yuji Hyakutake - C/1996 B2

Only one month later Y.Hyakutake discovered another and most popular C/1996 B2. The comet was announced on  IAUC 6299. The comet was discovered on 30.8 January 1996 with his 25x150 Binoculars. The comet appeared diffuse and of 2.5’ diameter and 11th mag. In the next months the comet became a “great comet” approaching Earth on March 25th with a total magnitude of 0th and a tail of 80°!!

Copyright: Michael Jager, Erich Kolmhofer, Herbert Raab. 25-03-1996

Howard J. Brewington - C/1996 N1

IAUC 6428 announced a new comet discovered, by amateur Howard J. Brewington from Cloudcroft(USA). The comet was discovered on July 4th visually with a 20cm reflector and was later confirmed by G.Garradd.

Copyright David Hanon

Vello Tabur - C/1996 Q1

IAUC 6455 announced the discovery of a new comet,C/1996Q1, on August 19 by Vello Tabur (Wanniassa,AUS). The comet was discovered with 20cm reflector and appeared of 11th magnitude and 3’ diameter.

Copyright Stefan Beck

Justin Tilbrook - C/1997 O1

Justin Tilbrook from Clare, South Australia, reported a visual discovery of a comet on July 22.43UT with a 20cm reflector. Justin is a variable star observer and he discovered the comet while was observing TV Corvi when he saw a 10th mag “blob” of 70” in diameter. Several minutes later he saw that the object had moved. One day later Gordon Garradd (from Loomberah) confirmed the comet using a 25cm reflector+ CCD, the images showed a little fuzzy of 2’ without tail. IAU Circular 6705 announced the discovery on July 23 while a preliminary orbit announced in IAUC 6707 showed the comet was close to perihelion at about 1.4AU from the Sun and a similar distance from the Earth. If the comet had been 3 months earlier, it would have been visible in 7x50 binoculars from the Earth. Copyright

Picture of C/1997O1 taken by Justin, using a 35mm camera with a 200mm zoom lens and 400ASA Fujicolor print film; on the evening of 1997 July 26 (10:45 UT). The camera was hand-guided for an exposure lasting 10 minutes, to capture this faint image of Comet Tilbrook.

Comet Tilbrook image taken by Akimasa Nakamura on 1997 July 24.47UT with a 60cm Reflector f6.

Michel Meunier - Philippe Dupouy - C/1997 J2

IAUC 6648 announced the discovery of a new comet C/1997 J2 on May 7th. by Michel Meunier (Arbonne la Foret). 0.20-m f/6 reflector + CCD, only some 6' southwest of comet C/1997 J1, perhaps 0.5 mag brighter than C/1997 J1 but having a much slower motion. Additional observations, apparently an independent discovery, have also been reported by
Philippe Dupouy and J. F. Lahitte. (Observatoire de Dax). 0.20-m reflector + CCD.

Discovery story:

The story of the discovery told by Philippe DUPOUY

Like most audiens (members of the mailing-list Aude) after the day's work, consultation of the electronic mailbox Aude server to read the latest astronomical news and there, message from Alain Maury announcing the latest comet discovered by Jean Mueller C/1997J1, without specifying celestial coordonates. As I did all the asteroids audiens every fine-weather days for several weeks, I tell myself that to change, I will make additions to positions on a comet and bring my modest contribution. I send a personal message to Alain, to obtain the ephemeris from 1997J1 which I received on the evening of May 7, 1997.
A reading of the declination, I "tick" a little. The camera "Hi-SIS22" behind the LX200 allows me only 60 degrees (for stories of adapter rings) and the sky is over not terrible, alternation of sunny and cloudy. It is 9:30 p.m. local, the comet is almost at Meridian ... I have to do an article for a future 'CCD et Télescope' .. .. an electronic circuit to finish .... To Be or Not To Be ..?
I decided to observe, "tomorrow's Holiday," "I'll can sleep", "prose will wait".
 Here we go in mechanics (another of my hobbies!), removing the camera, replacing the ring too long (1O mm to win!). After fruitless searches for replacement, I delete the adapter 42/75 to 42/100 and I dare screw directly the 42/100 of the camera into the telescope's 42/75 . A portion of the net enough to maintain! 8.5mm won, whew! Delta orientation: 71deg.

Raaaaahh! the two screws from the "homemade" shutter go beyond and the brake lever alpha stumbles on camera's parallel plug. Never mind, I Demount all, the hailstones rattling on the dome. After removal and leveling of embarrassing bodies, re-assemblage, camera finally passes into the fork. Delta orientation: 74° 30 while comet's delta on May 8 at 0h UT is 73°56.3.
The sky was again clear; so I open the dome and I go fast in the air conditioned room where I can do everything remotely over LAN (That's the object of the CCD and Telescope article). Timing clocks, focus, pointing, it is 11:28 p.m. UT when the 1 st image from 1997J1 appears.
Quick glance at the screen at right which shows the field of standard-POSS RealSky "pile-poil", let's go for 7 exposures of 30 s in binning 2x2.
 Small-break snacks, storage, monitoring of clouds outside and on another screen on the left Meteosat live.
0h 15 UT: recovery of a 2 nd round, the field is still there, but J1 moved down from the image, I recenter a bit and I see a 2nd spot a little brighter at the bottom in border field ... Surely a small galaxy. 7 exposures of 30s.
"It's still strange, this vague spot ... Almost the same place, RealSky shows a small star, certainly a distant galaxy. I change the thresholds of visualization, the star is punctual! So .. it's not a galaxy, then a comet? Failover patch / windows and I consult Megastar. Nothing. Well, we'll see if it moves on the 3 rd round thing.

 1h 02 UT: 3rd series, like it has moved a few seconds, it's a comet! "It must be known," "Megastar is the demo version, retrieved from the web, I don't have all the comets", "plus the Palomar raking in the corner "....

1h 19 UT: 4th series, 1997J1 which continues its fast race is almost as close as the unknown. At this time, I tell myself it is great to have 2 comets in a field of CCD, the animation will be beautiful.

 1h 49 UT: 5th round, they are still there both, 1997J1 begins to recede. Immediately after, the clouds came, I took the opportunity to make the "black", the flats will be made from pictures of the night.
It's from this moment that I've started to "gamberger". I didn't dare to send immediatelly an email to B. Marsden.
Jean-Francois Lahitte will treat the images in the afternoon, we will send all together, not to seem ridiculous, you never know. "I didn't manage to go out of the observatory, I moved on channel2 Meteosat, to see the cloud cover elsewhere throughout Japan under the clouds, the U.S. too, except California and Florida, Quebec was covered.
 Would it a hope? But hey, do not dream, now sleep, he began to emerge ...

 15h local this May 8: back to the observatory, J-Fr Lahitte was currently processing images of asteroids still in stock. After treatment and reduction of cometary positions with QMIPS32 I was "pumped up" I finally decide to send the mail to the IAU. It was 17:15.

 I can not tell too torment at that time. After that, the waiting for a response from Marsden, finding phone numbers of members Aude for an observation at night.
Around 19:30 in the mail consultant, I received like everybody the message "SUPER IMPORTANT" from Michel Meunier.
I called him (after Minitel research) and gave him confirmation of our common observation.
Then we discovered the anxiety and it lasts. At nightfall, we could remake the unknown, and Morata warned.
The first message from Marsden came on May 9 at 3:45, thanking us for our measures from the 8 and those we have just sent. Following the episode is told by Alain Maury.

I want to thank with a warmth inversely proportional to the coldness of the comet, Alain Maury who has delegated to me a discovery that could have done himself, Christian Buil for his selflessness in sharing his passion through the wonderful tools such as CCD cameras and processing software that never ceases to evolve and Jean-François Lahitte that help me effectively for treatment. Lively first amateur CCD comet, and lively AUDE.

 Philippe Dupouy

Syogo Utsunomiya - C/1997 T1
IAUC 6751 announced the visual discovery of a new comet C/1997 T1 on Oct. 3rd. by Syogo Utsunomiya, (Azamihara, Minami-Oguni cho, Aso-gun, Kumamoto-ken) with 25x150 binoculars. Coma diameter 2'. This was is first discovery.

Patrick Stonehouse - C/1998 H1
IAUC 6883 announced the visual discovery of a new comet C/1998 H1 on April 22nd. by Patrick Stonehouse (Wolverine, MI, USA) using a 0.44m reflector.

Peter Williams - C/1998 P1
IAUC 6986 announced the visual discovery of a new comet C/1998 P1 on Aug. 10th. by Peter Williams (near Heathcote, Sydney) using a 0.30m f/6 reflector while observing variable stars.

Discovery story:

Most people like to complain about the weather and, well, I guess I'm just like the rest. August is usually associated with strong winds but this year they were accompanied by driving rains which produced flooding in many areas of eastern New South Wales.

My backyard observatory at Heathcote, on the southern extremity of suburban Sydney, was partially flooded with 3cm of water when a nearby drain became blocked by garden debris. Nearly 170mm of rain was recorded at Heathcote during the first 9 days of August and I was beginning to suffer the 'DTs' from a lack of starlight.

Perhaps better known for the observation of variable stars, I have been fortunate enough to also observe a number of comets over the years beginning with Comet Bennett, the Great Comet of 1970, and sending the occasional total magnitude estimate to David Seargent of the Australian Comet Section during this time.

Monday, August 10 was the first clear night of the month so, although feeling tired after arriving home from work a little later than usual, I ventured outdoors after dinner with binoculars in hand to catch up on some of the brighter variable stars on my regular working list.

A normal night's observing at Heathcote involves preparation under subdued lighting, a naked eye nova search along the Milky Way followed by a search to near magnitude 8 in two selected areas with the 10x50mm binoculars. This is followed by the binocular variables before moving onto the telescopic stars. Each observing session can last between 30 minutes and several hours.

With the moon just two days after full there was a very narrow 'dark window' before moon rise. I had used this time for the binocular variables. After this I returned indoors to help with some domestic duties and getting the children off to bed. Domestic duties complete, I sat down with my wife, Linda, and feeling rather tired thought I may retire early for the night.

However, having been clouded out for near two weeks I felt obliged to show the 'right stuff' and check on the telescopic variables. In hindsight, this proved a wise decision.

By 9.30pm local time and with the near full moon well above the horizon, the roll-off roof of my observatory parted as I prepared for observation with the 30cm F6 Newtonian reflector.

Working through my usual sequence of variable star fields, I commenced low in the south west with SY Mus and DI Cru, followed by 8 other irregular and unusual stars in the Cru-Mus-Cen region.

Then sweeping eastward at a low 72x magnification from Alpha Cir towards the faint dwarf nova EK TrA, I almost fell of the three step ladder used to reach the eyepiece as a bright comet-like object came into view.

'Oh gosh, what have we here?' or words to that effect I muttered, knowing only too well there should be no fuzzy blobs in that area of sky.

A full millisecond or two later I forgot completely about EK TrA as complete panic set in. Was it clear in New Zealand? Was it clear in Victoria? As I shuffled through my charts to find that for EK TrA, I pondered who else may be observing this field that evening. Having located the chart I proceeded to plot the object's position then wait and look for movement.

At the time of discovery the comet appeared large, round and diffuse with no tail and a 13th magnitude stellar central brightening. Through the 20x80mm binoculars it was estimated at magnitude 9.5 but of somewhat smaller diameter than through the telescope at only 4 arcmin across.

Within half an hour clear movement towards the north west was evident so I moved indoors at near relativistic speed to seek independent confirmation. After several frustratingly unanswered phone calls, I eventually raised David Seargent of the Australian Comet Section who was able to provide verification.

At this stage even Linda, who is generally content to view the moon once every second year, left the warmth and comfort of bed to become only the third person on Earth to view the comet.

David kindly emailed the co-ordinates and magnitude estimates to the International Astronomical Union's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, USA. The CBAT replied the next day with a request for more information and additional positions to allow for establishing a preliminary ephemeris.

I had never realised how long the daylight hours are as I waited for nightfall!

Tuesday night was essentially cloudy at Heathcote except for several fortunate clear patches which allowed me to relocate the comet and establish an additional position. This was duly emailed to the CBAT.

Unknown to me, Gordon Garradd of Loomberah, near Tamworth, had learnt of the comet through David Seargent and was busy measuring the comet's position on CCD images obtained that night, providing the accurate details needed by the CBAT.

IAUC 6986 was issued on Wednesday 12th August 1998 announcing the discovery of Comet 1998 P1, much to the relief of all concerned.

Many emails and telephone calls from well wishers have since been received, topping off several days of intense excitement. My two minutes of fame have certainly been an experience I will long remember. The help, encouragement and co-operation of local identities such as David Seargent, Gordon Garradd and Rob McNaught played an important part in verifying this comet.

Looking back, however, this discovery was contributed to by a number of fortunate circumstances.

Firstly, the sky was clear and calm that evening after more than a week of strong winds and driving rain. Secondly, despite a near full moon the decision was made to observe through the telescope. Thirdly, had I delayed going outdoors a little longer I may not have observed the field of EK TrA. Finally, had I not been monitoring a non-program suspected variable a little to north of EK TrA, I may not have swept northward to low magnification and onto the comet.

Luck may have played its part. However, I like to believe - tongue in cheek - that I have been conducting a systematic search for comets, in variable star fields, while looking in the wrong direction and under full moon. Clearly, my methods have been vindicated!

Michael Jäger - P/1998 U3

IAUC 7038 announced the photographic discovery of a new comet P/1998 U3 on Oct. 23rd. by Michael Jäger on 16- and 9-min Technical Pan film exposures, using a 0.25m f/2.8 Schmidtcamera.


Copyright Michael Jäger

Justin Tilbrook - C/1999 A1

IAUC 7084 announced the visual discovery of a new comet C/1999 A1 on Jan. 12th. by Justin Tilbrook (Clare, South Australia) with 0.2-m f/6 reflector, 70x.
   Hourly motion 120" southward.  40"-50" coma, hint of nucleus, no tail. This is his second comet discovery.

Copyright Justin Tilbrook

Korado Korlevic - Mario Juric - C/1999 DN_3

IAUC 7167 announced the discovery of a new comet C/1999 DN_3on Feb. 18th. by Korado Korlevic and Mario Juric, using a  0,41m f/4.3 telescope and a CCD camera while doing routine asteroid search.

discovery image, Copyright Korlevic-Juric

left: Korado Korlevic, right: Mario Juric (Copyright unknown)

Steve Lee - C/1999 H1
IAUC 7144 announced the visual discovery of a new comet C/1999 H1 on April 16th by Steve Lee with a 0.41-m f/6 Newtonian reflector (about 75x) at a star party near Mudgee, New South Wales.

Discovery story:

Steve Lee, Copyright unknown

Daniel Lynn - C/1999 N2

IAUC 7222 announced the visual discovery of a new comet C/1999 N2 on July 13th. by Daniel W. Lynn, Kinglake West, Victoria, Australia with 10x50 binoculars and 0.20-m f/6   reflector (40x, 150x). Comet low in sky, moving northeastward at about 10'/hr.  Coma diameter 4'.2, fairly strong central brightening, but no discernible nuclear condensation and no tail.

Korado Korlevic - P/1999 WJ7

IAUC 7368 announced the discovery of a new comet P/1999 WJ7. An apparently asteroidal object discovered on Nov. 28th by Korado Korlevic at Visnjan with a 0.41-m f/4.3 reflector + CCD turned out to be a comet. It was discovered while doing routine asteroid search. 

Gary Hug - Graham E. Bell - C/1999 X1

IAUC 7331
announced the discovery of a new comet C/1999 X1 on Dec. 10th. by Gary Hug and Graham E. Bell, using a 12 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain and a CCD camera while doing routine asteroid search at the Farpoint Observatory.

Discovery story:

Comet Hug-Bell was discovered Thursday night from Farpoint Observatory in Eskridge, Kansas by Gary Hug and Graham Bell while they were doing routine asteroid search work using their automated telescope and CCD camera. Hug, 49 of Topeka and Bell, 64 of Maple Hill, Kan., are believed to be the first amateurs to discover a comet. "I've been looking for comets on and off for about 25 years," Hug says. "It was a terrific thrill." The International Astronomical Union, made the announcement over the weekend after staff members were able to make the confirmation.

Hug and Bell have calculated that it should be visible to Earth every seven years; as it makes it's orbit in around the Sun. "They did a great piece of work on it," said Brian Marsden of the Minor Planet Center, Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. "It's really quite an accomplishment".

Members of the Northeast Kansas Amateur Astronomers League, Hug and Bell (affectionately known in the area as Frick & Frack) went to their club's observatory about 9 p.m. Thursday to perform observations in search for asteroids. The equipment used for the discovery include a 12" Schmidt-Cass and CCD imaging equipment. They first noticed the fuzzy spot at about 1 am on Friday. After increasing the exposure to 10 minutes, they noticed it had a fuzzy head and short cometary tail. They increased the exposure time to 20 long minutes, they were able to better confirm that the object showed a discernible tail at pa ~285.

While the normal approach is to use two telescopes for discovery and follow up work, that process was altered Friday morning, as one scope was shut down for Graham to perform the astrometry. Gary continued to image the new object and as soon as 5 good data points were derived, the submission was sent to the Minor Planet Center. A request was also sent to Catalina for comrade, Tim Spahr to image the object from their larger equipment. Unfortunately, Catalina was clouded out, but was fortunate enough to have imaged this sliver of sky earlier. Mr. Spahr then compared the current image with an earlier November 11, 1999 image which also contained that object.

Meanwhile, other experts, Carl Hergenrother and Lenka Sarounova both observed the object and concurred that it was, indeed a comet. Marsden then connected the object with sightings back to October 10 and December 7.

With such a significant work of astrometry and history, this object was declared a comet
(P/1999 X1 Hug-Bell) in less than 48 hours!