Comet Section - Annual Report

Comet discoveries and recoveries have continued at a high level and 1991 equalled the record of 1989 with 34 comets being given provisional letter designations, and a further three comets which are visible all round their orbit also reaching perihelion. Comets 1991 s to 1991 h1 and 1992 a to 1992 j have been given provisional letter designations. Seventeen of these were new discoveries, six being periodic and nine were recoveries of periodic comets. Five more comets were jointly discovered by Carolyn & Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy in the course of the search for planet - crossing asteroids. This brings the total to 27 for Carolyn Shoemaker, thus surpassing Pons' long standing record, and 17 for Levy. William Bradfield discovered another two comets bringing his total to 16.

Once again, no comets became very bright, though comets P/Faye 1991 n, P/Levy 1991 q, P/Hartley (2) 1991 t, Shoemaker-Levy 1991 a1, Zanotta-Brewington 1991 g1 and Tanaka-Machholz 1992 d were all moderately well observed. Interest was raised with a short 1.5 mag outburst of comet Tanaka-Machholz during the full moon period in May. It is obviously worth keeping an eye on all comets within reasonable reach of your equipement, even during full moon periods!

Work on the Halley Memoir occupied much of the Director's time early in the session but it was finally published in October. During the session, two newsletters were issued by Denis Buczinsky. The Director was out of the country, working at the British Antarctic Survey's Halley station from the end of November to mid March, and during this time Guy Hurst ran the section. Whilst the Director was on board ship he was able to commence typing up the observations in the section archives for submission to the ICQ. There are, however, a considerable number still to enter and volunteers to help with typing the data into a computer would be appreciated. Guy Hurst is now receiving most of the visual observations and is submitting these directly to the ICQ.


Jonathan Shanklin