Copyright © 2004 by R. Ligustri (Italy)
R. Ligustri obtained this image on 2006 February 2, using a 350/1750 Newtonian reflector and an SBIG ST9e CCD camera. The exposure was 480 seconds in duration and the image measures 19' by 19'.
This comet was discovered on 2000 March 3.41 by J. V. Scotti, A. E. Gleason, J. L. Montani, M. T. Read (SPACEWATCH, Steward Observatory, Kitt Peak). They gave the magnitude as 21.0 and noted a stellar appearance. It was reported as a minor planet and received the preliminary minor planet designation "2000 EC98". This object was later given the name "Echeclus" and was given an official minor planet number of 60558.
Y.-J. Choi and P. R. Weissman (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California, USA) observed this object with the 5-m reflector and the Large Format Camera at Palomar Observatory (California, USA) on 2005 December 30.50. A 600-second R-band exposure revealed a coma extending about 20 arc seconds from the nuclear condensation. The total magnitude was then given as 17.5. Choi obtained a confirming observation on 2006 January 1, while D. Polishook (Wise Observatory) obtained a confirming observation on January 2. The object then received the designation P/2000 EC98, and was later officially designated as periodic comet 174P.
The first orbit was published by B. G. Marsden on 2000 March 15. Using 15 positions spanning the period of 2000 March 3 to 14, he gave the very preliminary perihelion date as 2000 March 3.38 and the period as 95 years. This object was a member of the Centaur family of minor planets.
Marsden published a revised orbit on 2001 February 19. Using positions spanning the period of 2000 March 3 to 2001 February 19, he gave the perihelion date as 2015 May 30 and the period as 35.10 years.
P. Rousselot and J.M. Petit (Besancon Observatory, France) used the 3.5-m New Technology Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile to look for cometary activity on this object. The observations were made on 2001 April 26 and 27 with broad band filters (R, V, and B). The R magnitude was given as 21. No trace of activity was found.
Seiichi Yoshida (Japan) visually observed the comet using his 0.4-m reflector on 2006 January 8 and gave the magnitude as 14.4. He also said the coma was 0.5 arc minute across, with a little condensation. The comet was then about 13 AU from the sun.
S. Tegler (Northern Arizona University), G. Consolmagno (Vatican Observatory), and W. Romanishin (University of Oklahoma) obtained R-band CCD images on 2006 April 2.3 using the 1.8-m Vatican Advanced Technology telescope at Mt. Graham. They noted a faint coma 2 arc minutes across and centered 1 arc minute east of the nuclear condensation as well as a brighter condensation 12 arc seconds across that was centered 7 arc seconds west of the nuclear condensation.