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112P/Urata-Niijima

Past, Present, and Future Orbits by Kazuo Kinoshita

Discovery

     IAU Circular 4267 (1986 November 3) announced that T. Niijima and T. Urata had discovered a fast-moving minor planet on plates exposed on 1986 October 30.58 with a 0.30-m f/5.8 reflector at Ojima. The magnitude was estimated as 16.
     On November 5, it was announced that T. Seki (Geisei, Japan) had observed the comet on November 3 and noted a "very faint and diffuse coma surrounding a central condensation."
     M. Lovas independently discovered the object at Piszkesteto on November 4 and described it as asteroidal with a "faint asymmetric coma." A prediscovery photograph from October 29 was also found at Brorfelde.

Historical Highlights

  • B. G. Marsden (Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams) published the first orbit for this comet on November 5. Using positions obtained from October 30 through November 4 he determined a parabolic orbit with a perihelion date of 1986 November 20, and a perihelion distance of 1.64 AU. After the prediscovery photo had been found, as well as additional observations through November 7, Marsden announced the comet was moving in a short-period orbit. The resulting perihelion date was 1986 November 23, the perihelion distance was 1.44 AU, and the orbital period was 6.42 years.
  • Having passed closest to both the sun and Earth, the comet began fading shortly after discovery.
  • The comet was recovered by James V. Scotti (Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA) using the Spacewatch telescope on 1993 October 20.49. The precise position indicated the prediction required a correction of only -0.24 day. The comet then showed a coma 11 arc seconds across, which contained a nucleus of magnitude 22.7. A tail extended 0.4 arc minute toward PA 290-292 degrees.
  • The comet was next predicted to arrive at perihelion on 2000 March 4.38. It was recovered on 1999 September 8.61 by P. L. Lamy and H. A. Weaver, while using the Hubble Space Telescope for a survey to determine the radius of the nucleus of several comets. In this case, the radius was given as 0.90 kilometers. An independent recovery was made on 1999 November 13.09, when C. Hergenrother (Kitt Peak, Arizona, USA) gave the magnitude as 21.5.
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