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Past, Present, and Future Orbits by Kazuo Kinoshita

A. Nakamura photo of 140P exposed on 1999 May 7
Copyright 1999 by Akimasa Nakamura (Kuma Kogen Astronomical Observatory, Japan)

The CCD image was taken on 1999 May 7.48, using a 0.60-m f/6 Ritchey-Chretien telescope.


     Edward L. G. Bowell (Lowell Observatory, Arizona, USA) found a comet on exposures obtained by Brian A. Skiff on 1983 February 11. The 0.33-m photographic telescope at the Anderson Mesa Station was used for the photographs. The magnitude was determined as 16.2 and the comet was described as diffuse with a slight condensation. Bowell and Skiff confirmed the comet on February 15 and determined the magnitude as 16.5.
     A prediscovery image was found on plates exposed on 1983 February 8 at Purple Mountain Observatory (Nanking, China).

Historical Highlights

  • The comet was observed at several observatories during the next few days and by February 22 Brian G. Marsden had determined the comet was a short-period one. The perihelion date was given as 1983 March 15 and the orbital period was 15.2 years. He noted that the period was still somewhat uncertain. The comet was last seen on June 10 by Everhart (Chamberlin Observatory field station, Colorado, USA) and, ultimately, the orbital period was determined as 15.67 years.
  • Calculations for the next apparition indicated a perihelion date around 1999 April 27.8. A few searches were made during the last months of 1998, but there was no trace of the comet. Then on December 28, Gareth V. Williams announced that while processing recent data received from the LINEAR program, he found an object as bright as 18.5 that seemed to be moving at a speed and direction comparable to that expected for comet Bowell-Skiff. The object had appeared on LINEAR images obtained on December 14 and 17. Marsden successfully linked the 1983 and 1998 observations and found the comet would pass perihelion on 1999 May 14.9.
  • Additional Images

    Copyright 1999 by Michael Jäger

    This image was taken by Michael Jäger on 1999 May 3.86. He used a 0.25-m Schmidt camera. Exposure time was 9.5 minutes and the photographic emulsion was hypered TP6415. The webmaster has cropped the image to save space. (Thanks to Gerald Rhemann for permission to use this image.)

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