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P/2004 WR9 (LINEAR)

Comet P/2004 WR9 (LINEAR)
2004 Dec 07 00:11 - 01:07 UT
Frames 10 min & 12 min total exposure.
Motion 0.26"/min in p.a. 310
Faint tail 20" in p.a. 235
Field 5'x5', binned 2x2 and enlarged x2, scale 3" per pixel
0.30m f/6.3 Schmidt-Cassegrain + CCD

Originally discovered by LINEAR on 2004 Nov 22.3 UT this object had been reported as asteroidal and already designated as 2004 WR9.

Ten days later, on 2004 Dec 02.94 UT it was posted on the NEO Confirmation page, presumably after the Minor Planet Center recognised its orbit as being comet like. By then it was moving very slowly at 16" per hour in Auriga, 2 North of Beta Tau, in a rich star field

Two separate runs were taken from Great Shefford on 2004 Dec 3.0 UT, the first for a total of 6 minutes and the second, 25 minutes later of 4 minutes and although the object was well recorded and the image examined for possible cometary detail, no obvious cometary features could be made out for sure.

The next opportunity to image the object was on 2004 Dec 7.0 UT and this time a total of 90 twenty second exposures were taken, the exposures being kept short to stop any drive inaccuracies from blurring the images. Cloud interfered with about one in three of the images and those that were OK were then formed into two stacks, the first of 10 minutes total exposure and the second of 12 minutes (shown in the animation above). A faint, short tail could just be made out extending to the lower right, a bright star masking the end of the tail.

The earlier Dec 3.0 images were then re-examined and a hint of a 10" extension to the central condensation was suspected in p.a. 250.

Details were sent to the Minor Planet Center on Dec 7.07 UT along with the astrometry from the two stacks. IAUC 8448 was published on 2004 Dec 8.73 after Carl Hergenrother had confirmed a similar appearance from images taken 2004 Dec 08.45 UT with the 1.54-m Catalina reflector at Mt. Lemmon.

The comet was shown to be arriving at perihelion in early January 2005 at a distance of 1.9 AU with an inclination of just 5 and having a period of nearly 15 years.


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