Comet Section        


May 2, 2022 – ALPO Comet News for May 2022


Last month’s big question was “What’s up with C/2021 O3 (PANSTARRS)?” Would it survive passing 0.29 au from the Sun or disintegrate like many other dynamically new, intrinsically faint comets? We now have our answer. C/2021 O3 has likely disintegrated with a remnant dust cloud being all that’s remains of the comet. Still as of the end of April, some ground-based observers have been able to detect a diffuse remnant at ~9th magnitude. This at least gives us some hope of being able to monitor the slow dispersal of the dusty remains as it heads into the northern circumpolar evening sky.

Of course, C/2021 O3 isn’t the only comet in the sky. While May won’t see any very bright comets, a number will be in the 9-10th magnitude range including C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), C/2019 L3 (ATLAS), C/2021 E3 (ZTF), and C/2021 F1 (Lemmon-PANSTARRS) (the last two only visible from the southern hemisphere). Observers who can push fainter to around 12th magnitude can also observe 9P/Tempel, 19P/Borrelly, 22P/Kopff, 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusáková, C/2019 T4 (ATLAS), C/2020 (ZTF), and C/2021 P4 (ATLAS).

April saw the ALPO Comets Section receive 89 magnitude estimates and 15 images/sketches of comets C/2021 P4 (ATLAS), C/2021 O3 (PANSTARRS), C/2021 E3 (ZTF), C/2021 A1 (Leonard), C/2020 Y2 (ATLAS), C/2020 V2 (ZTF), C/2020 M5 (ATLAS), C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS), C/2020 J1 (SONEAR), C/2019 T4 (ATLAS), C/2019 L3 (ATLAS), C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), 116P/Wild, 104P/Kowal, 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, 22P/Kopff, 19P/Borrelly, and 9P/Tempel. A hearty thanks to our April contributors: Dan Bartlett, Michel Deconinck, J. J. Gonzalez, Christian Harder, Michael Jager, Mike Olason, Uwe Pilz, Raymond Ramlow, Chris Schur, and Chris Wyatt.

In addition to observations submitted directly to the ALPO, we occasionally use data from other sources to augment our analysis. We would like to acknowledge with thanks observations submitted directly to the ALPO as well as those originally submitted to the International Comet Quarterly, Minor Planet Center, and COBS Comet Observation Database. We would also like to thank the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for making available their Small-Body Browser and Orbit Visualizer and Seiichi Yoshida for his Comets for Windows programs that are used to produce the lightcurves and orbit diagrams in these pages. And last but not least, we’d like to thank Syuichi Nakano and the Minor Planet Center for their comet orbit elements, the asteroid surveys and dedicated comet hunters for their discoveries, and all of the observers who volunteer their time to adding to our knowledge of these amazing objects.

The monthly ALPO Comet News PDF can be found here. A shorter version of this report is posted on a dedicated Cloudy Nights forum. All are encouraged to join the discussion over at Cloudy Nights.

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