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Follow-up on 168P/Hergenrother bright phase

4 Oct 2012, 15:51 UTC
Follow-up on 168P/Hergenrother bright phase
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

According to reports issued by a number of observers to several astro-forums, comet 168P/Hergenrother is currently experiencing a bright phase: over the course of several nights, it increased in brightness by several magnitudes, reaching a total visual magnitude of approximately 8. We performed some follow-up on it remotely, on 2012 Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, through the 2.0-m f/10.0 Ritchey-Chretien + CCD + Bessel R filter of the Faulkes Telescope South, at Siding Spring (click on the image below for a bigger version).Inspecting our stacked images obtained on Sept. 26, the comet shows an obvious central condensation, measuring nearly 3" across; the total coma was traced to a diameter of about 1.7'. On Oct. 3, the central condensation grew to 8" and the total coma diameter was nearly 3'. It's interesting to notice how, apart the growing of the central condensation size, also its appearance changed, appearing pretty sharp on Sept. 26, and a bit "fluffy" on Oct. 3.Subtracting the two images (after normalization of the stackings) of Sept. 26 from Oct. 3, the evolution of the central condensation became obvious. To some extent, the difference might be due to a slight change in the perspective angles (e.g. its phase ...

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