Comet Section - Annual Report 1993


Comet discoveries and recoveries have continued at a high level with 27 comets being given provisional letter designations in 1992, and one further comet which is visible all round its orbit also reaching perihelion. Two 'asteroidal' comets were also under observation. Comets 1992 k to 1992 a1 and 1993 a to 1993 p have been given provisional letter designations. Ten of these were new discoveries, 3 being periodic and 23 were recoveries of periodic comets. Two 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 30 for Carolyn Shoemaker, and 19 for Levy.

The year started on a bright note with the long awaited recovery of P/Swift-Tuttle, 1992 t. A paper for the Journal, recording the section observations, has been prepared by Martin Mobberley. Comet Schaumasse 1992 x proved disapointing, but was relatively well observed. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 1993 e was unusually discovered in orbit round Jupiter, having broken up during a close encounter. It is expected to colide with Jupiter in July 1994.

A section meeting was held in Cambridge on 1992 October 17th, with talks covering the spectrum of cometary work. A display of photographs and light curves of selected comets was presented at the exhibition meeting in June.

During the session, two newsletters were issued by Denis Buczinsky. The Director was out of the country, working at the British Antarctic Survey's Faraday station from the beginning of November to mid February, and during this time Guy Hurst ran the section. Whilst the Director was away he was able to continue 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