Images from the solar-observing SOHO satellite have been searched for comets recently, yielding many comets. The LINEAR and the CATALINA programs found a few comets too. Meanwhile, Comet LINEAR (1999 S4) is at magnitude 13, if it stays on this magnitude curve it should reach the brightness of the Andromeda Galaxy in July.
SOHO images five comets during Feb. 3-9. Three more were found a few weeks later. Searching through the SOHO archives brought out ten more comets. These 18 comets were found by T. Lovejoy, D. Biesecker, M Meyer, M. Oates, D. Lewis, K Cernis, M. Boschet, T. Harincar, D. Lewis and K. Schenk. Discoverers who found these comets on these SOHO images do not get their name on the comets, nor are they eligible for the Wilson Comet award since they were not using amateur equipment.
The LINEAR and CATALINA search programs found four comets, all of them were first thought to be asteroids until further investigation found they were tiny comets. Three showed tails from 10 to 16 arcseconds. One was declared a comet based upon it showing a "soft" image, "slightly larger than star images" through a 72-inch telescope with a CCD. Many LINEAR comets are first thought to be asteroids.
Comet Hunting Notes: Unlike the LINEAR comets, visually-found comets show a definite size. The average comet found visually by amateurs is about three arcminutes in size. They range from two to ten arcminutes.
Don Machholz, (530) 346-8963, DonM353259@aol.com
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