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A binocular comet for the year's end
Will it make it to naked eye visibility?

 


A picture of it?

Stop day dreaming.That's the glorious Hale-Bopp of 1997 , never to be seen again in human's history.

 

The Linear C/2000 WM1 comet has been brightening more and more, although not to the point of becoming a naked eye object. It is now a 5.2 magnitude fuzzy spot in the constellation of Cetus, an easy target forbinoculars. A star chart may be useful to spot it during its peregrinations through the low magnitude star field of the Pisces, Cetus, Sculptor region.
The SIRIUS observers team has been spotting and following the Comet for quite some time and feel it is a nice binocular project for experienced amateurs.(See the picture at left for an early view of Linear. It's the nebulosity at the center).

  Discovered on December 16, 2000 at the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research center (LINEAR) with their automated 1m telescope when at magnitude 18. It will reach its perihelion (Closest distance to the Sun) on January 22, 2002 when it will pass at 0.55 UA from the Sun, while its closest approach to Earth is these days when it is passing to within 0.3 UA from Earth.
It is now an evening object which stay up till late at night. It has become a conspicuous object only lately, and might even become visible if it brightens suddenly when approaching the Sun, although the hope of such a happening, high few months ago, has now waned. With the Moon rising late those early December days, that's the time to catch a glimpse of a fine comet in time where bright comets are scanty.

Orbital Elements for Comet Linear C/2000 WM1
Epoch
  2001 Oct.18.0TT
Perihelion date, T
  2002 Jan22.6837TT
Perihelion distance, q
  0.555391 a.u.
Argument of perihelion
  1.000267
Excentricity, e
  276.7703
Long. of ascend. node
  237.8971
Inclination, i
  72.5508

 For those who possess a good Planetarium like program (Skymap,...), here's the comet's coordinates to have it included among the displayed objects (Source: Minor Planet Circular 43018).

Indeed a nice comet. Members of our association could follow for some two weeks it till December 7th with binoculars. It was in particular observed vividly December 5 in the Cetus Constellation while the weather was particularly good, between Phi3 ceti and TYC 5272-1142-1. The tail could be resolved with a 10x50 binoculars albeit with difficulty.

 
     
 
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Last update: 1/ 10/ 2004
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