|Past, Present, and Future Orbits by Kazuo Kinoshita|
Copyright © 1995 by Herman Mikuz (Crni Vhr Observatory, Slovenia)
Periodic comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has a nucleus measuring about 5 by 3 kilometers across that rotates once every 12.7 hours. It belongs to the Jupiter family of comets (comets with periods less than 20 years). The comet was discovered in 1969. Although it then had an orbital period of 6.55 years, an analysis of its orbit reveals the period had been longer in the recent past. During the early years of the 20th century, the orbital period had been about 9.3 years. A close approach to Jupiter in February 1959 (0.22 AU) reduced the period to 6.5 years. The comet has been seen at every return since its discovery.
During mid-1969, several astronomers from Kiev visited the Alma-Ata Astrophysical Institute to conduct a survey of comets. On September 20, while still at Alma-Ata, Klim Ivanovic Churyumov examined a photograph exposed for periodic comet Comas Solá by Svetlana Ivanovna Gerasimenko on September 11.92, and found a cometary object near the edge of the plate which he assumed was the expected periodic comet. Upon returning to Kiev, the plates went under intense scrutiny. Precise positions were determined for all of the observed comets, as well as estimates of the coma diameter, and photographic magnitude estimates of the comet and nucleus. On October 22, it was realized that the position determined for P/Comas Solá was 1.8° from the expected position based on observations from other observatories. Further examination revealed P/Comas Solá in the proper position, near the limit of the photographic plate, which meant a new comet had been found. They estimated the magnitude of the new comet as 13, and said it had a faint coma 0.6 arc minute across, with a central condensation about 0.3 arc minute across. There was also a faint tail extending 1 arc minute toward PA 280 degrees.
[Perihelion Date=1969 September 11.04; Period=6.55 years]
[Perihelion Date=1976 April 7.23; Period=6.59 years]
[Perihelion Date=1982 November 12.10; Period=6.61 years]
[Perihelion Date=1989 June 18.39; Period=6.59 years]
[Perihelion Date=1996 January 17.66; Period=6.59 years]
Copyright © 1995 by Tim Puckett
[Perihelion Date=2002 August 18.31; Period=6.57 years]
Copyright © 2003 by NASA, European Space Agency and Philippe Lamy (Laboratoire d'Astronomie Spatiale, France)
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