* * * SKY & TELESCOPE's SKYWATCHER'S BULLETIN - February 5, 2003 * * *
COMET KUDO-FUJIKAWA OUTWARD-BOUND
The comet has survived its passage past the Sun and is now beginning its
journey back to the depths of the solar system. It may soon be a fine
sight after sunset for Southern Hemisphere observers.
What's Up in Space -- 5 Feb 2003
What's happening to Comet Kudo-Fujikawa (C/2002 X5)? No one knows.
Coronagraphs onboard the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory watched
in late January as the comet swung perilously close to the Sun and developed
an odd-looking double tail. Since then, however, Comet Kudo-Fujikawa has been
out of sight--too far from the Sun for SOHO to see, yet too close to the Sun
for Earth-bound observers to easily photograph.
Comet Kudo-Fujikawa will soon emerge from the Sun's glare into southern skies, and astronomers are anxious to see what it looks like. The first people to see it could be the crew of the International Space Station. From the ISS the comet will rise above Earth's limb just before dawn. Against the black of space--unlike the bright morning skies of Earth--the comet might be an easy target.
Space Weather News for January 29, 2003
Comet C/2002 X5 (Kudo-Fujikawa) is perilously close to the Sun--only 0.19 AU away. (For comparison, the planet Mercury is 0.38 AU from the Sun.) Intense sunlight is hiding the encounter from sky watchers on Earth, but not from the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). Coronagraphs onboard SOHO are able to block the Sun's glare and reveal the nearby comet. How bright will the comet become? How big will its tail grow? Will the comet break apart? Visit the SOHO website and find out for yourself.
January 25, 2003
================================================================== This Is SKY & TELESCOPE's AstroAlert for Comets ==================================================================
COMET KUDO-FUJIKAWA NEARS THE SUN
Comet Kudo-Fujikawa (C/2002 X5) has now entered the field
of view of SOHO's LASCO C3 coronagraph. It first appeared
today (January 25th), looking like the end of a thin
cotton swab directly above (north of) the Sun, at the top
of the circular frame. As expected, the tail points directly
away from the Sun. During the next few days, the comet
should make its way diagonally down to one side of the Sun
(which is behind an occulting disk at the center of the
Images are being returned hourly by the SOHO spacecraft, and they may be viewed at: sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime-images.html
The comet will spend the next six days in the C3 field before exiting at the end of January. While it could become as bright as magnitude 2 during this period, it is much too close to the Sun to be observed safely in a ground-based telescope.
This comet was independently discovered in mid-December by Japanese amateurs Tetuo Kudo and Shigehisa Fujikawa. If the comet survives its perihelion passage -- near 0 hours Universal Time on January 29th, at just 0.19 astronomical unit from the Sun -- it will emerge in the evening sky for observers in the Southern Hemisphere. More about this comet, including a current ephemeris, can be found at SkyandTelescope.com (click Observing, then Observing Highlights, and scroll down to the story).
Roger W. Sinnott
Sky & Telescope
========================================================================= * * * SKY & TELESCOPE's SKYWATCHER'S BULLETIN - December 31, 2002 * * * =========================================================================
COMET KUDO-FUJIKAWA CONTINUES TO BRIGHTEN
This little comet, discovered in mid-December, has continued to slowly
brighten and is now at magnitude 6.6. Binoculars should be all you need to
spot the comet in the east just before dawn.
What's Up in Space -- 27 Dec 2002
Can't sleep? Grab your binoculars and dash outside before dawn for a look at Comet Kudo-Fujikawa (C/2002 X5). It's a 7th-magnitude fuzzball gliding through the constellation Hercules. The comet will brighten impressively (brighter than Saturn!) next month when it approaches the Sun. Unfortunately, the Sun's glare will make the comet hard to see when it is at its best.
======================================= SKY & TELESCOPE's AstroAlert for Comets =======================================
December 22, 2002
NEW COMET IN HERCULES
Using giant 20 x 120 binoculars, Japanese amateur Tetuo Kudo
has discovered a comet of 9th (or perhaps) 8th magnitude,
moving east-southeast through Hercules. He made the find
early on the morning of December 14th (local time).
According to the announcement on IAU Circular 8032,
confirming CCD images by Ken-ichi Kadota (Saitama, Japan)
revealed a short tail about 1/3 degree in length, pointing
away from the Sun.
A preliminary orbit calculated by Brian G. Marsden of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, indicates that this comet is headed for perihelion in late January, when it will pass well inside the orbit of Mercury and may brighten considerably. Unfortunately, it will then be almost directly *behind* the Sun as seen from Earth, hence virtually impossible to observe. Before that time, Northern Hemisphere observers should be able to follow the comet with binoculars in the morning sky through mid-January. Skywatchers in the Southern Hemisphere are in a position to see it emerging from the Sun's glare in late February, in the evening sky.
Congratulations, Tetuo Kudo!
The ephemeris below, calculated from Marsden's preliminary orbital elements on Minor Planet Electronic Circular 2002-X84, gives the comet's right ascension and declination (equinox 2000.0) at 0 hours Universal Time on selected dates. Also listed are the comet's distance from the Earth (delta) and Sun (r) in astronomical units (where 1 a.u. is about 149,600,000 kilometers), its elongation angle from the Sun in degrees, predicted magnitude, and the constellation though which it is passing. (If the numbers in the columns don't line up properly, reset your e-mail program to a fixed-width type font like Courier.)
Visit http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/cbat.html for information on subscribing to the IAU Circulars. Or go to http://cfa-www.harvard.edu/iau/mpc.html for similar information relating to the Minor Planet Center's many services.
Roger W. Sinnott
Sky & Telescope
----------------------------------------------------------- Comet C/2002 X5 Date R.A. Dec. Delta r Elong. Mag. Const. (0h UT) h m o ' a.u. a.u. o Dec 15 15 54.3 +44 48 1.085 1.210 71.4 7.5 Her Dec 16 16 02.6 +44 13 1.069 1.189 70.6 7.4 Her Dec 17 16 11.0 +43 35 1.054 1.167 69.8 7.3 Her Dec 18 16 19.5 +42 54 1.039 1.146 68.9 7.2 Her Dec 19 16 27.9 +42 09 1.025 1.124 68.0 7.1 Her Dec 20 16 36.4 +41 22 1.012 1.102 67.0 6.9 Her Dec 21 16 44.9 +40 31 0.999 1.080 66.0 6.8 Her Dec 22 16 53.4 +39 36 0.987 1.058 64.9 6.7 Her Dec 23 17 01.8 +38 38 0.976 1.035 63.8 6.6 Her Dec 24 17 10.2 +37 37 0.966 1.012 62.6 6.5 Her Dec 25 17 18.5 +36 32 0.957 0.989 61.3 6.4 Her Dec 26 17 26.7 +35 24 0.948 0.966 60.0 6.2 Her Dec 27 17 34.9 +34 13 0.941 0.943 58.6 6.1 Her Dec 28 17 42.9 +32 59 0.934 0.919 57.2 6.0 Her Dec 29 17 50.8 +31 41 0.928 0.895 55.7 5.9 Her Dec 30 17 58.6 +30 20 0.923 0.871 54.2 5.7 Her Dec 31 18 06.2 +28 57 0.919 0.846 52.7 5.6 Her -----------------------------------------------------------
* * * SKY & TELESCOPE's SKYWATCHER'S BULLETIN - December 17, 2002 * * *
A COMET FOR CHRISTMAS
Early on the morning of December 14th, Japanese amateur Tetuo Kudo was
scanning the constellation Hercules with his giant 20 x 120 binoculars and
discovered a fuzzy 9th-magnitude glow moving slowly east-southeast. The
comet (named Kudo-Fujikawa) is currently about 7th magnitude, making it a
viable binocular object for amateurs. It could be 6th magnitude or
brighter by the year's end.