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Upcoming Comets - Per Don Lynn
By: Barbara Toy
November 6, 2003 9:15PM PDT
C/2002 T7 LINEAR is one of the TWO comets predicted to reach first magnitude next May, and both sufficiently far from the sun that we should get a good look. Peak brightness is predicted for May 17, remaining naked eye visible for 2 months before and one after.
C/2001 HT50 LINEAR-NEAT had already peaked in brightness when we saw it last month. It was only magnitude 11 then, about the same as T7 was then.
The other bright one in May is C/2001 Q4 NEAT, peaking May 7. We did not look for it last month, because it was 70 degrees south declination then. It will be shooting north wildly when bright.
Comet 2/P Encke is predicted to peak at magnitude 4 on December 27.
There are 14 other known comets brighter than 18th magnitude now, but almost all of them dimmer than the mag 11 ones we saw.
Then there's Comet 1/P Halley, 17 years past its peak brightness, recently imaged by the VLT at magnitude 28. Don't even try for it, unless you own a 300-inch or larger scope and a good CCD.
Government mandated warning: Your comet magnitude may vary. Remember Kahoutek.
/Donald S. Lynn