Analysis of Comet Apparitions

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During the perihelion passage 2023/24 comet 62P/Tsuchinshan (P=6.17a) should become an object visible even in small instruments. It will pass perihelion on Dec. 25, 2023 at the distance of 1.26 AU and will be situated quite close to Earth during a long period (perigee at a distance of 0.50 AU will be reached on Jan. 30, 2024). The comet is expected to peak at 8.0-9.0 mag. It should remain brighter than 16 mag between October 2023 and April 2024. During this period it will move from the western part of the constellation Gemini to the northwestern part of the constellation Virgo. Thus the comet will be an object in the morning sky at first, getting an object visible during the whole night during winter 2023/24 and will eventually switch to the evening sky.

In the end, the comet became a fairly easily recognizable object in binoculars, as long as it was observed under a dark sky. However, due to the great activity parameters it could only be followed for about two months in binoculars. Based on 317 observations by 51 observers the comet showed slightly different brightness developments pre- and post-perihelion, as listed below:

pre-perihelion: m0 = 6.3 mag / n = 14
pre-perihelion: m0 = 6.7 mag / n = 11

The maximum brightness of 8.1 mag was reached at the turn of 2023/2024. At the start and the end of the apparition the comet was of magnitude 15.

Total Brightness and Coma Diameter

The coma diameter showed a very symmetrical development pre- and post-perihelion. It increased from 1.0' (60,000 km) at the start of the apparition to a maximum of 11' (240,000 km) in mid-January 2024. Thereafter it decreased in a similar manner, measuring 1.5' (80,000 km) at the beginning of May. The coma was only moderately condensed. The degree of condensation increased slightly from DC 3 at the end of October 2023 to DC 4 at the end of January 2024, thereafter decreasing to DC 2-3 by mid-April. A tail, which was always directed towards WNW, could be detected between end of November 2023 and April 2024, reaching a maximum length of 20' (1.25 million km) on CCD images.

Andreas Kammerer

FGK observations