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Past, Present, and Future Orbits by Kazuo Kinoshita

Image of 56p exposed on 2004 September 16
Copyright © 2004 by Stefan Beck (Farrenberg)

S. Beck obtained this image on 2004 September 16, using a 200/800 Newtonian and Platinum K402ME. It is a three-minute exposure.


     C. D. Slaughter and R. Burnham, Jr. (Lowell Observatory, Arizona, USA) were blink examining plates exposed with the 13-inch photographic telescope during the course of the Proper Motion Survey. On 1959 January 27, they found a comet on a plate exposed on 1958 December 10.16. They estimated the magnitude as 16, and described it as diffuse, with a central condensation. Further examination revealed 8 additional plates showing the comet on December 10, 11, 12, 13, and 15, and this enabled E. Roemer to compute an elliptical orbit and ephemeris, which revealed a perihelion date of 1958 August 4.53 and an orbital period of 11.18 years. Although searches at Lowell Observatory during the last days of January proved fruitless, Roemer managed to photograph it on February 2.12. She said there was only a trace of coma surrounding a nearly stellar central condensation of about magnitude 18.0.

Historical Highlights

  • When this comet was first identified in late January 1959, it was nearly five months passed perihelion and nearly three months passed its closest distance from Earth. The comet was followed only at Lick Observatory (California, USA) during February, March, and April. H. M. Jeffers estimated the magnitude as 19 on March 3 and last detected the comet on April 9.16.
  • Additional Images

    Maciej Reszelski image of comet 56P exposed on 2004 August 8
    Copyright © 2004 by Maciej Reszelski (Ostrorog, Poland)

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