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From: TerryMosel@aol.com
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2002 13:03:40 EST
Subject: Another Bright Comet? - NEAT!

Hi all,

Here's another comet which may reach unaided visibility in late January & 
early Feb. (I have to try to remember not to use "n***d eye" visibility, as 
some 'Net-Nanny' minders block it!).

Prof Mark Bailey gave me the following details:

COMET C/2002 V1 (NEAT): Discovered by the 'NEAT' auto-search facility, this 
comet is currently predicted to be around 8th magnitude, and to reach mag 2 
or brighter when near Perihelion. It is now moving Westwards, then rapidly 
SouthWestwards, in Pisces. It is currently within a binocular field North of 
Epsilon Piscium, and passes just below the left side of the Square of Pegasus 
on Jan 12-13, and below the right side on Jan 30-31.

Orbital elements:
    C/2002 V1 (NEAT)
T = 2003 Feb. 18.3013 TT         
q =  0.099329             (2000.0)
omega (Peri.) =  152.1513      
OMEGA (Node) =    64.0839 
e (ecc) = 1.0            
i (Incl.)   81.8229
(From 762 observations 2002 Nov. 6-Dec. 30.)

The following ephemeris is from orbital elements on MPEC 2002-Y60 (the 
magnitudes below assume H_15 = 6.5, though any prediction of the comet's 
brightness close to perihelion is necessarily highly uncertain):

2002/03     R. A. (2000) Decl.   Delta     r      Elong.   Phase  mag.

Jan.  01    1 01.99   +12 50.3   0.807   1.367    99.1   45.3    8.1
        06     0 38.50  +11 54.8   0.825   1.265    88.3   51.0    7.6
       11     0 17.28   +11 02.1   0.847   1.159    78.2   56.1    7.1
      16    23 58.01   +10 12.1   0.871   1.049    68.6   60.8    6.5
      21    23 40.13   + 9 23.0   0.894   0.933    59.3   65.1    5.8
      26    23 22.94   + 8 30.8   0.916   0.810    50.3   69.3    4.9
      31    23 05.57   + 7 28.0   0.934   0.679    41.3   73.4    3.8
Feb.  5    22 46.83   + 6 00.5   0.947   0.536   32.1   77.9    2.3
      10    22 24.90   + 3 35.5   0.957   0.377    22.3   83.3     ?
      15    21 56.89   - 01 38.4   0.970   0.194   11.3   89.6     ?
      20    21 53.19   - 17 11.6   1.014   0.134    7.5   75.3      ?

Re Comet Kudo-Fujikawa, the last time I looked for it, on the evening of 
28/12, I couldn't see it at all in 30x80 binocs, although I was looking 
through some light pollution. But it's certainly not prominent yet. I would 
estimate that it was below total integrated mag 8 that night, or I would have 
seen it. There may be large daily or hourly fluctuations in its brightness, 
so don't give up!

Good Luck!

And another reminder: 

IAA XMAS /NEW YEAR PARTY: Don't forget to book your ticket(s) for the social 
event of the year, on Saturday 4 January, 7.30 p.m., at the Tudor Private 
Cinema, Comber. The film is 'Space Cowboys', and a great selection of buffet 
food & drinks are included in the price. Full details were sent out with 
STARDUST: if you've lost them, or didn't get them, contact me immediately by 
return, or John Hall, tel 9084 3109, or email at <
jimmyaquarius@btinternet.com>.  Great fun, and great value, with various 
family tickets available.

Finally, following my own 'locating' advice, I did spot Mercury low in the 
SSW on 28 December, but it was only barely visible to the unaided eye. Did 
any of the other pundits who predicted its 'unqualified' visibility 
throughout December manage to see it without optical aid before Xmas? I doubt 
it! Better opportunities await in the Spring... 

Happy New Year, & clear skies, to all.

Terry Moseley

Last Revised: 2003 January 7th
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