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10P/Tempel 2

Past, Present, and Future Orbits by Kazuo Kinoshita

A. Nakamura image of 10P exposed on 1999 November 3
Copyright © 1999 by A. Nakamura (Kuma Kogen Astronomical Observatory, Japan)

This CCD image was taken on 1999 November 3.45 UT, using a 0.60-m f/6 Ritchey-Chretien telescope.

Discovery

     Ernst Wilhelm Liebrecht Tempel (Brera Observatory, Milan, Italy) discovered this comet on 1873 July 4.04 in Pisces. He simply described it as faint, with a slow southeastern motion. No observations were possible on the 4th, but Tempel again saw the comet on the 5th. He remarked that it was brighter than expected and exhibited a coma diameter of 5 arc minutes.

Historical Highlights

  • The comet was probably at its brightest during late July and fading was apparent thereafter as the comet moved away from both the sun and Earth. The comet was last seen on October 20.
  • The comet was recognized as a new short-period comet. Initial computations revealed orbital periods or 5 to 5.5 years, but Schulhof's definitive orbit indicated 5.16 years was correct. His prediction that the comet would return during 1878 led to its recovery by Tempel himself on July 19 of that year. A. Winnecke made an independent recovery as well.
  • The comet was observed at every favorable return, having been missed on 5 occasions due to particularly bad placement at the time of perihelion. The last missed apparition was that of 1941, and, although equally bad apparitions have occurred since, the use of larger telescopes have enabled the comet to be detected. The February 1957 perihelion was so bad, that observations were only made on 1956 May 6, 7, and 9. The comet was then magnitude 19.0.
  • The comet's most favorable apparition to date was in 1925. The comet's early August perihelion nearly coincided with the closest approach to Earth (0.35 AU), causing the total magnitude to reach 6.5.
  • The comet has consistently shown a very predictable physical appearance at each return, although occasional jumps in brightness are not uncommon. These jumps usually occur about a week or two after perihelion and can amount to 2 or 3 magnitudes. The most pronounced instances of this phenomenon occurred in 1873 and 1967.
  • The comet's last apparition came in 1999. It was near 19 in late February and attained magnitude 18 in late March and 15 in late April. By late May observers were widely reporting it as slightly fainter than 13, with a coma diameter around 1 arc minute.

    Additional Images

    A. Nakamura image of 10P exposed on 1994 July 15
    Copyright © 1994 by A. Nakamura (Kuma Kogen Astronomical Observatory, Japan)

    This CCD image was taken on 1994 July 15.78, using a 0.60-m f/6 Ritchey-Chretien telescope.


    A. Nakamura image of 10P exposed on 1999 May 13
    Copyright © 1999 by A. Nakamura (Kuma Kogen Astronomical Observatory, Japan)

    This CCD image was taken on 1999 May 13.72, using a 0.60-m f/6 Ritchey-Chretien telescope. The comet is in the center, displaying a very strong condensation and a slight wisp of tail.

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