On the night of August 10th, Australian observer Peter Williams found a new comet. C/1998 P1 (Williams) will reach perihelion on October 16th. Observers currently estimate the comet's brightness at about magnitude 8.5. As the comet nears perihelion, it will be moving away from the Earth and moving toward conjunction with the Sun. According to Charles Morris (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), by late November, the comet will be visible from both hemispheres at about 10th magnitude.

Positions for Comet Williams for 0 hours Universal Time (Epoch 2000.0):

             R.A. (2000)  Decl.      m1

August 20    14 13.45     -54 23.7   +9.5
       25    13 59.76     -49 50.7   +9.5
       30    13 50.91     -46 00.8   +9.5

Orbital elements and ephemeris of C/1998 P1 (Williams)

Information from the European Southern Observatory

12 August 1998

ESO Press Photo 31/98

First ESO Image of New Comet 1998 P1

A new comet was discovered on August 10 by amateur astronomer Peter Williams of Heathcote (near Sydney, Australia). Having received information about this, other observers on that continent sighted the new object yesterday, August 11.

Official announcement of this discovery was sent yesterday evening to all observatories by the IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams on IAU Circular no. 6986. The comet, provisionally designated as C/1998 P1, is seen in the southern constellation Circinus (The Compass) and the magnitude is estimated at about 9.5. This corresponds to about 25 times fainter than what can be seen with the unaided eye. The comet is easily visible in small telescopes. The orbit (and therefore the current distance) is not yet known.

Observations of the new comet were made with the 1.54-m Danish Telescope at the ESO La Silla observatory, immediately in the evening of August 11. The observers were Hans Kjeldsen (Theoretical Astrophysics Centre, University of Aarhus, Denmark) and Hermann Boehnhardt (ESO La Silla, Chile).

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