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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
Copyrightę1997 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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