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NEAT image of 204P exposed on 2002 January 6
Copyright © 2002 by Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT)

This image was obtained by NEAT on 2002 January 6.28. It is a 30-second exposure


This comet was discovered by LINEAR on images obtained on 2001 October 13.44 and 17.41. It was then described as asteroidal in appearance with a magnitude ranging from 19.0 to 19.8. It was even given an asteroid designation of 2001 TU80. An independent discovery was made by NEAT at Haleakala on October 19.59. The object was still stellar in appearance and magnitude estimates three NEAT images revealed a range of 19.3 to 20.4. A routine minor planet orbit was calculated and no further observations were made.

The NEAT program based at Palomar Observatory discovered a comet with a coma 3 arcsec across on November 16.53. The comet was almost immediately identified to the asteroidal object found by LINEAR and NEAT during October. An observation by P. Kusnirak (Ondrejov Observatory) on November 17, using a 0.65-m reflector, revealed the comet was moderately condensed, with a coma 0.3 arcmin across.

Historical Highlights

  • The first announcement of this comet was made on International Astronomical Union Circular 7753 (2001 Nov. 17). It included details of the discovery observations, as well as the first orbit. The orbit was calculated by B. G. Marsden, using 27 positions reported during the period of 2001 October 13 to November 17. The resulting perihelion date was 2001 December 9.24, while the orbital period was 7.19 years.

  • Additional Images

    Michael Jäger obtained this image of 204P on 2002 January 10
    Copyright © 2002 by Michael Jäger (Austria)

    This image was obtained by Michael Jäger on 2002 January 10. The image is a combination of two 14-minute exposures obtained with a Schmidt-Cassegrain 250/450 and TP hyp film.

    Giovanni Sostero photo of 204P exposed on 2002 March 4
    Copyright © 2002 by Giovanni Sostero (Italy)

    This image was obtained by Giovanni Sostero and V. Gonano on 2002 March 4.95. It is a 300-second exposure obtained with a 0.3-m f/2.8 Schmidt-Schmidt, and a Hi-Sis 24 CCD camera. North is toward the top, while east is to the left.