Last updated 14 Sep 2017

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P/2006 T1 (Levy)

In the images above, the coma could be traced out to a diameter of 4' and the tail to a length of 14'. Close to the comet's head the tail was only about 10" wide, broadening out to about 2' wide as the tail faded into the sky background at the edge of frame. The central condensation was measured to be magnitude +14.0 in a 13" dia aperture, while the total magnitude of the comet was measured as +11.2 in a 2.2' dia. aperture.

David Levy picked up Comet P/2006 T1 visually using a 0.41-m reflecting telescope, as it passed about 40' to the north of Saturn just before the start of morning twilight at around 12h UT on 2nd Oct 2006, from his Jarnac Observatory near Tucson, AZ.

After being added to the NEO Confirmation page about 8 hours later the comet was picked up from Great Shefford and along with a number of other observatories helped confirm the object that morning, before IAUC 8757 (subscription required) was issued announcing the discovery of the new comet.

Comet P/2006 T1 (Levy) is David's 22nd discovery and was found 12 years after the last discovery to carry his name, Comet Takamizawa-Levy, which was picked up visually in April 1994.

The next morning 2006 Oct 4, the coma appeared somewhat less dense and was only traceable to a diameter of 3'. The thin tail extended for 8' passing close by a 15th magnitude background galaxy. Parabolic rays can be seen faintly within the coma. The morning before, on 3 Oct 2006 these features were hardly visible at all.

Here the image above has been reprocessed with an unsharp mask and enlarged x2 to enhance the faint detail within the coma.

Within 5 days of discovery, subsequent astrometry of the new comet revealed that the object is in fact a short period comet approaching the Sun a little over once every 5 years. Its perihelion distance places it close to the position the Earth occupies in late December. However, the current return with T= 2006 Oct 7 and the previous return in July/August 2001 are both very unfavourable, with the comet placed close to the Sun throughout the period when at its brightest.

On 2006 Oct 27 at about 03:30 UT the comet passed only about 1' north of the nucleus of the bright galaxy NGC 3521 in Leo. Imaged here about 90 minutes later the pair are shown guided at the rate of motion of the comet (smudging the appearance of the galaxy)

Here, the same exposures are stacked to keep the galaxy NGC 3521 sharp but causing the comet to appear trailed:

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