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TSP Images of Comet Ikeya-Zhang

cw-iz-comet2.jpg (21913 bytes)

cw-iz-comet3.jpg (19411 bytes)

cw-iz-comet4.jpg (15057 bytes)

Here are a few quick shots I snapped of Ikeya-Zhang just off the head of Draco (May 9) during TSP. Izzy was past her glory, but still very visible, and the shots do show a visible tail, even if not what it was. I also enjoyed watching it's rather rapid nightly progress from Draco to Hercules, and was amazed how much it moved night to night.

Charlie Warren, AAAA
Dallas, TX

Click on the small images for an enlarged view

lr-c1com.jpg (21241 bytes)

AAAA Member Larry Robinson has compiled a page of images and detailed information about Comet Ikeya-Zhang on his Sunflower Observatory web site


Orbital Elements of Ikeya-Zhang

T = 2002 Mar. 8.912 TT 
Peri. = 19.237
Node = 111.715 2000.0
q = 0.49127 AU 
Incl. = 26.341

AAAA News and Activities

Comet C1/2002
AAAA Members Observe 
Comet Ikeya-Zhang

5 Planets Align, April/May 2002
C1/2002 Comet Ikeya-Zhang
Brazil Conjunction, May 14, 2002
Calif. Conjunction, May 14, 2002
Annular Eclipse - June 10, 2002

Comet Ikeya-Zheng was discovered February 1, 2002, by Japanese observer Kaoru Ikeya and Chinese amateur Zhang Daqing. At time of discovery, the comet was visible in binoculars from dark-sky locales near the stars Beta and Iota Ceti, which define the "head" of Cetus, the Whale. The comet was about 8th magnitude in brightness.

The Track of Comet Ikeya-Zhang during February, 2002

On February 7th, Doug Kniffen in Missouri observed the comet. "In spite of hazy skies," he says, "and proximity to a bright display of the zodiacal light, comet Ikeya-Zhang is visible in 10X50 binoculars."

In mid-March, Ikeya-Zhang stood well up in the west as darkness fell in the constellation Pisces. Doug reported another observation on March 10th. "2002 C1 was observed last night. Very impressive through the binoculars. With averted vision, the tail stretched beyond the 5 degree FOV. The coma was small, only a few arc minutes, but it was quite bright. The pseudo nucleus appeared to be at least 4th magnitude, maybe brighter. Through the 4-inch at 25X, quite a bit of fine structure was seen in the tail within 2 degrees of the coma."

The Track of Comet Ikeya-Zhang during March 2002

In Angola, Indiana, on March 16, Tim Tyler also observed this comet during is passage through Pisces, "and it is a beauty!! It was an easy naked eye object, had an obvious tail in binos, and was stunning in a 6-inch newt. A 1.5 degree long tail was easily noted, but I couldn't detect any color. It's definitely the best comet I've seen with a telescope in the last 2 years."

mc-Ikeya-ZhangComet4-4-02.jpg (26945 bytes)Around March 27, Ikeya-Zhang passed just a few degrees from the spiral galaxy M33. And in early April it crossed just above M31, the great Andromeda galaxy. AAAA member Mark Cunningham in Craig, CO, captured Ikeya-Zhang just as it passed by this famous galaxy. Mark's image was taken with 205mm lens f3.8 with 200asa film for 10 min. Click on the image at left to see the full sized picture.

Ikeya-Zhang moved into view in the morning sky around the first of April, while remaining visible in the evening. It slid past the W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia around April 10-15, and became "circumpolar." But the comet continued to fade quickly as it moved farther from the Sun. 

The Track of Comet Ikeya-Zhang during April, 2002

Ikeya-Zhang passed closest to Earth on April 28, at a distance of about 38 million miles (61 million km).

The Track of Comet Ikeya-Zhang during May, 2002

Comet Ikeya-Zhang was a popular evening target during the Texas Star Party, held again this year at the Prude Ranch in Fort Davis, Texas, May 5-12, 2002. The comet was easily visible in binoculars, and was a fine telescope target, even though by then, Ikeya-Zhang was on its way out from the sun. As a result, both the size of the tail and the apparent magnitude were obviously diminished from two months back. Still, as Charlie Warren from Dallas reports, "I also enjoyed watching it's rather rapid nightly progress from Draco to Hercules, and was amazed how much it moved night to night." Charlie's CCD images taken on May 9 are in the box on the upper right of this page.

ikz-020512b.jpg (11587 bytes)AAAA President Ed Flaspoehler also photographed Ikeya-Zhang with a 135mm lens, not from the Prude Ranch, but from Marathon, TX, on Sunday night, May 12, the day after TSP. "I decided to spend the day in Big Bend NP on Sunday after TSP, and on my way home, Marathon was as far as I got before I ran out of gas. Since all the stations were closed, I had to spend the night. That turned out to be a good idea, since not only was I able to get gas the next morning, but I found a cool resort hotel to spend the night in. And since it was only 10:30 when I got there, after checking in to the hotel, I went out for a bit of observing outside of town. It was a lot less dusty than Prude Ranch had been, and the skies were very dark. So I got out my gear and shot a couple of frames of Comet IZ." Click on the image to see the full sized picture.

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