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Stuart Jackson 2004

  
Comets - C2001 A2 Linear
 

Discovery
The story of C/2001 A2 begins back in mid-January, when the MIT Lincoln Laboratory team (LINEAR) in Socorro, New Mexico, captured images of a 19th-magnitude object in Cancer that did not appear to be moving like a typical main-belt asteroid. Follow-up observations at two observatories in the Czech Republic revealed a fuzzy rather than a point-source image. The orbit calculated by Brian G. Marsden, and the brightness observations available in January, suggested the comet would brighten slowly to perhaps 13th or 12th magnitude by early April, ultimately reaching about 9th magnitude in June. However, starting on March 26th, Michael Mattiazzo of Wallaroo, South Australia, noticed the comet was much brighter than expected.

Observations:
I received an Astro Alert email on March 31st 2001 and observed the comet that night. Even with the moon above the horizon the comet was easy in my short tube 80 from suburbia. In early May the nucleus of the comet split which also triggered an increase in the comets brightness. Towards the end of May the comet was visible in binoculars.

Image:
C/2001 A2 (Linear) image by Pepe Manteca taken with a 12" LX-200 on the 1st of April 2001.


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