Comet 103P/Hartley and EPOXI
We are only hours away from the EPOXI spacecraft’s (the spacecraft formerly known as Deep Impact) close flyby of Comet 103P/Hartley 2. In the weeks leading up to this encounter, EPOXI has already made some great images and even a new discovery (dustless CN jets).
Arecibo radar images were able to resolve the nucleus. The 150-m resolution images show a highly-elongated ‘pickle’ shaped object with a long axis of 2.2 km. These observations confirm those of various ground-based groups of a 17 to 18 hour rotation period. Each of the groups have been getting slightly different results suggesting that the rotation rate may be changing or that the nucleus is rotating around two axes.
Newly Discovered Comet 2010 V1
IAUC 9175 brings surprising news of the visual discovery of a bright comet by two Japanese amateurs, Kaoru Ikeya and Shigeki Murakami. Visual magnitude estimates by the discoverers and Juan Jose Gonzalez of Spain place the comet between magnitude 7.5 and 9 with the brighter magnitude be more likely. The comet is currently a morning object in Virgo at an elongation of 32°. An orbit has yet to be published.
This is Ikeya’s 7th comet discovery and first since 156P/Ikeya-Zhang in 2002. His first 5 discoveries were made between 1963 and 1967 and include what many consider the best comet of the 20th century, 1965’s sungrazer Comet Ikeya-Seki. 2010 V1 is Murakami’s 2nd discovery. His first was 2002’s Comet Snyder-Murakami.
I’ll post more on the Hartley 2 encounter and new comet 2010 V1 as the more info comes in.