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210P/2008 X4 (Christensen) - Catch It Quick

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Author Topic: 210P/2008 X4 (Christensen) - Catch It Quick  (Read 373 times)
Roman White
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Poltava, Ukraine

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« on: January 06, 2009, 11:03:37 am »

Unfortunately, the conditions aren't the best and the comet got already too faint for my scope.

Alan Hale's report in
Countdown to 500 Comets: no. 446

Comet 210P/Christensen P/2008 X4

Happy New Year! I started off the International Year of Astronomy by adding
a rather unusual comet to my "Countdown" tally. This is a comet that was
originally discovered in May 2003 by Eric Christensen with the Catalina Sky
Survey, and which may be identical to an unconfirmed possible SWAN comet
that was reported the previous month. Despite its faintness at discovery I
was able to obtain a couple of visual observations of it, although I needed
the help of CCD images I'd taken to show me exactly where to look and what
to look for.

The recovery at this first predicted return was most remarkable. It was
spotted by Alan Watson of Australia in HI1b STEREO images taken December 8
as a possible new comet. After a preliminary orbital calculation by Rainer
Kracht, Maik Meyer suggested possible identity with Christensen's expected
comet, a suggestion which was quickly verified (the original prediction
being 22 days off). This turns out to be the first time a first-return
periodic comet was recovered in images taken with a spacecraft.

After putting on a good show in the LASCO coronagraphs around perihelion the
comet has now emerged into the morning sky. After an unsuccessful attempt
with a 20-cm telescope on New Year's morning, I successfully picked it up
with the 41-cm telescope the following morning. On January 2.53, m1=11.2
(extinction corrected), 1.2' coma.

The comet rapidly climbs higher into the morning sky over the coming few
weeks, but will also probably fade rapidly as it recedes from the sun and
Earth. My suspicion is that it will probably fade beyond the range of visual
detectability by about early February.

Description at

Report by J.J.Gonzalez on Jan.04
P/2008 X4 (Christensen):
2009 Jan. 4.26 UT: m1=10.1, Dia.=2.2', DC=5, 20 cm SCT (100x).
[ Mountain location, very clear sky. Beginning of astronomical twilight.
Altitude: 10 deg.].
( Pandorado, alt. 1190 m, Leуn, N. Spain )
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SkyWatcher 130/900mm EQ3, Bresser 76/700mm, 20x90 bino. and other, Olympus SP-550UZ
Eclipse & comet chaser, occultation & meteor observer
Poltava Astronomy Portal

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