Copyright © 2009 by E. Guido, G. Sostero, P. Camilleri, and E. Prosperi (GRAS, Mayhill station, New Mexico, USA)
The discovery of an apparently asteroidal object was reported by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program (New Mexico, USA) on 2002 June 5.30. The magnitude was given as 18.1. Observations continued through June 13 and then LINEAR accidentally reobserved the object several times during July. The next year, LINEAR again accidentally observed this object during the period of 2003 July to November. Examining images accidentally obtained of this object on 2003 October 29, E. Christensen (Catalina Sky Survey, Arizona, USA) noted a cometary appearance. He was able to obtain additional CCD images on November 17 which confirmed the cometary appearance. Christensen then noted a magnitude of 16.6-16.9. The Minor Planet Center made a request to J. Young (Table Mountain Observatory, California, USA) to try and confirm the cometary nature. His images obtained on November 18 revealed a round coma 7" across and a "featureless fanshaped tail" extending 15-20" in PA 190-280 degrees.
Since the comet was initially thought to be a minor planet, it appeared on a list of one-opposition orbit minor planets 2002 June 14 by the IAU Minor Planet Center. The orbit was based on an arc of just eight days and had a very cometary orbital period of 7.00 years. Following the announcement that this was a comet, B. G. Marsden published an orbit on 2003 November 18. Using 69 positions obtained during the period of 2002 June 5 to 2003 November 2, he determined the perihelion date as 2003 March 15.66 and the period as 6.99 years. This proved an excellent representation of the comet's orbit.
The comet was last detected during January 2004. P. C. Sherrod (Petit Jean Mountain, Arkansas) obtained two images on January 12, using the 41-cm reflector and a CCD camera. He gave the magnitude as 18.0 and said the coma was 9 arc seconds across.He described the comet as a "very small smudge, very diffuse and difficult ...." T. Seki (Geisei, Japan) obtained a single image on January 13 and gave the magnitude as 19.0.
Apparition of 2010: This comet was recovered by Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, Paul Camilleri, and Enrico Prosperi (Remanzacco Observatory, Italy) using a remote-controlled telescope of the GRAS network (Mayhill station, New Mexico, USA) on 2009 April 17.45. They described the comet as an "extremely compact coma, about 12 arcsec in diameter, and a short tail nearly 25 arcsec long toward West." The comet was 4 arc minutes east-northeast of the predicted position.