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C/1998 J1 (SOHO)

Copyright © 1998 by Michael Horn

Horn obtained this photo from Wandibindle, Queensland, Australia. It shows the tail passing over the Flame Nebula. The Horsehead Nebula is also visible above both the Flame Nebula and the comet's head.


S. Stezelberger discovered this comet on a series of images obtained by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). The comet's first appearance was on 1998 May 3.78. C. St. Cyr (Naval Research Laboratory, on behalf of the SOHO-LASCO Consortium) estimated the magnitude as "mag 0 and possibly brighter". This marks the 49th comet discovered by SOHO since 1996 January.

Historical Highlights

  • Many failed attempts were initially made to see this comet following its perihelion passage. The Author of this web page (Gary Kronk of Troy, Illinois), as well as Alan Hale (Cloudcroft, New Mexico), M. V. Zanotta (Monte Bisbino, Italy), and other experienced Northern Hemisphere comet observers searched for the comet on May 9, 10, 11, and later, but nothing was found.
  • Observers in the Southern Hemisphere had better luck, including numerous very good photographs. Tim Cooper (South Africa) saw the comet in the evening sky on May 19. He determined the magnitude as 3.8 and the tail as 2.5 degrees long. Some great photographs were taken by several observers, including Michael Horn (Australia) and Gordon Garradd (Loomberah, Australia).
  • The comet steadily faded as May drew to a close, with estimates near magnitude 5 by May 26 and 5.5 by May 31. The passed across the belt of Orion and offered numerous photo opportunities.
  • OUTBURST! Observers in Australia and Brazil reported the comet had experienced an outburst in brightness on June 1. Estimates then ranged from 3.3 to 3.8. The comet quickly faded during the next few days and was apparently back to normal by June 7, at a magnitude of 5.7-5.9.
  • The comet steadily faded during the first half of June. It reached magnitude 6 around the 8th, and was at 6.5 by the 11th. Estimates of the coma diameter ranged from 3 to 5 arc minutes, while the tail seems to have faded considerably and was no longer being reported visually.
  • Additional Images

    Copyright © 1998 by the SOHO/LASCO consortium
    SOHO is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

    One of the early images obtained by SOHO. The exact date is 1998 May 4.90. The images typically covers the region from 4.0 to 30.0 solar radii, although this image was cropped by the webmaster to concentrate on the sun, comet, and Mars.