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132P/Helin-Roman-Alu 2

Past, Present, and Future Orbits by Kazuo Kinoshita

A. Nakamura image of 132P exposed on 1997 November 23
Copyright © 1997 by Akimasa Nakamura (Kuma Kogen Astronomical Observatory, Japan)

This is the recovery image obtained by A. Nakamura. The CCD image was taken on 1997 November 23.57, using a 0.60-m f/6 Ritchey-Chretien telescope.


     Eleanor F. Helin, B. Roman, and Jeff Alu discovered this comet using the 0.46-m Schmidt telescope at Palomar Observatory on 1989 October 26. They estimated the magnitude as 16.

Historical Highlights

  • Using the available positions, Daniel W. E. Green (Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams) published an elliptical orbit on 1989 October 30. It indicated a perihelion date of 1989 October 5, a perihelion distance of 1.69 AU, and an orbital period of 5.55 years. Green revised the orbit on November 2. The result was a perihelion date of 1989 October 31.7, a perihelion distance of 1.976 AU, and a period of 9.06 years. After several more months of observations, the period proved to be 8.19 years.
  • The comet changed little in brightness following its discovery, and then began to slowly fade after mid-November as it moved away from both the sun and Earth. It was last detected on 1990 February 27.
  • The comet was expected to return to perihelion during 1997. It was recovered by C. W. Hergenrother using the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's 1.2-m reflector on Mt. Hopkins on 1997 July 13.46. The image showed a slight diffuseness. Further images on July 14 confirmed this was the comet and the nuclear magnitude was determined as 19.6. A short tail was also visible in PA 250 degrees. The precise positions indicated the prediction by B. G. Marsden (Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams) required a correction of -0.6 day. The comet passed perihelion on 1997 November 10. It did not exceed a brightness of magnitude 17.
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