New Comet Yi-SWAN

Article written: 8 Apr , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

Are you ready for the new kid on the block? Its name is Comet Yi-SWAN and it’s not going to be very long before it’s easily within range of small telescopes and larger binoculars. So where is it at? Head out to the early morning skies for your best look, because it’s rockin’ with the Queen – Cassiopeia.

Discovered photographically by Korean amateur astronomer, Dae-am Yi, on March 26th – word didn’t reach the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts until after it had been independently picked up on SWAN images by professional astronomer, Rob Matson, on April 4. (Now why doesn’t that surprise me?) However, once CBAT astronomers realized that both reports were for the same object, it officially took on the name Comet Yi-SWAN (C/2009 F6).

Right now the new comet is traveling in a highly inclined parabolic orbit, moving slowly across the constellation of Cassiopeia toward Perseus. While Comet Yi-SWAN is currently only a few arc minutes in size and averaging about 8.5 magnitude, it’s going to be very difficult to spot because of the moonlight. However, if you’re interested in catching the latest visitor from the Oort cloud, you just might want to try on Saturday evening, April 11 when Yi-SWAN will be located less than half a degree south of Alpha Cassiopeiae. If you’re clouded out? Try again on Thursday, April 23-24 when it will pass south of NGC 884 and NGC 869 (the “Double Cluster”).

Happy Hunting!!

NASA image on this page is archival and does NOT represent Comet Yi-SWAN or its position. It is strictly for illustratory purposes.


15 Responses

  1. Johnstone says

    I think its great that SOHO’s hidden talent is as the best comet discoverer in history.

  2. shaws4 says

    Tammy,

    Why did you state “(Now why doesn’t that surprise me?) “?

  3. Jon Hanford says

    Johnstone, no doubt SOHO is legendary at discovering comets, but read the disclaimer at the end of the article “NASA image on this page is archival and does NOT represent Comet Yi-SWAN or its position. It is strictly for illustratory purposes.”

  4. AndyF says

    “..a few arc minutes in size.” I don’t think so. If it was it would be naked-eye. Perhaps you mean arc seconds…..

  5. Mr.Obvious says

    Fortunately, this comet should be available until at least the middle of May. The Moon shouldn’t cause much of a problem nearing the end of April… so the 23-24th should be a great opportunity, weather permitting.

    Unfortunately, it will not get any brighter than mag 8.4.

  6. Member

    hi, andy…

    no sweetie, it is a few arc minutes. a small globular cluster is around 10 arc minutes in size, which is how comets usually appear – like a small, diffuse, unresolved globular cluster. arc second measurements are normally used to describe distances between tight double stars.

    an easy way to remember is that it takes 60 arc seconds to make an arc minute – just like a clock. and 60 arc minutes to make 1 degree of sky.

    and mr. obvious is very correct. unless something drastically unexpected happens, about 8.4 is all the brighter it will get. however, that magnitude range is well within the power of small telescopes and most binoculars from average dark skies. the most difficult task will be simply seperating it from the starfield if you’re using low magnification.

    and shaws4? it doesn’t surprise me that it took so long for CBAT to recognize yi’s observation because of all the bureaucratic red tape that seems to accompany every “official” astronomical thing. i know it’s all part of the game, but i can’t help but wonder sometimes… 😉

  7. Aqua says

    Hope is eternal.. meaning that should I see this one, it will be comet number 42 for me!

    I like comets.

    Mr. Sol is being kinda quiet but that doesn’t mean that this comet won’t get ‘hosed down’ by an unexpected blast of protons. I note today’s Space Weather report concerning continuing Aurora Borealis’.

  8. Nick says

    During 1957, a comet very visible to the naked eye even at high noon in Oklahoma, moved slowly across the sky, its tail pointing towards the Sun which, at the moment, was in the direction the comet was moving towards. However, I never successfully looked up what comet that was, name, size, etc..
    You?
    Or, where is it today? (if you like tough questions.)

  9. Nick Sivul says

    During 1957, a comet very visible to the naked eye even at high noon in Oklahoma, moved slowly across the sky, its tail pointing towards the Sun which, at the moment, was in the direction the comet was moving towards. However, I never successfully looked up what comet that was, name, size, etc..
    You?
    Or, where is it today? (if you like tough questions.)

  10. bse5150 says

    Great little article! Let us know about new comets – I don’t see this anywhere else in the science/space blogs and sites yet.

    If possible, can you post a map of Cassiopeia and the location of the comet?

  11. Dave Finton says

    Nick: Source? A comet of this type would be of profound astronomical importance considering it was: a) pointing in the wrong direction and b) visible in daylight. At risk of sounding snarky, I am going to suggest it is perhaps you that is pointing in the wrong direction. Also c) this was never reported anywhere during 1957, and if it was it repulsed my rudimentary research on the events that occurred on that year.

    BTW, *when* the heck are we going to get personalized ingore list capabilities on this site? I come here for interesting scientific discussion, not to look at pseudoscientific crap that takes up 3/4 of the posts here? I’m losing my sense of humor here!

    =(

  12. marcellus says

    Hooray! Another comet to look at and journal. This will be #10, getting me closer to the silver certificate Comet Hunter award by the Astronomical League.

  13. pappe says

    Nick, the comet of 1957 was Arend-Roland. Looking at a photo from april 25 it did indeed have two tails apparently pointing in opposite directions.

  14. Jon Hanford says

    @ Nick, the comet you saw (with the prominent antitail) was indeed Arend-Roland. See Wiki entry here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arend-Roland_Comet for orbital info, pictures and other relevant links. Man, I wish I could have seen it, but I wasn’t born until 1958!

  15. Jon Hanford says

    @ Nick: Gary Kronk’s comet page also has more detailed info here: http://cometography.com/lcomets/1956r1.html . @ Dave Finton: ” c) this was never reported anywhere during 1957, and if it was it repulsed my rudimentary research on the events that occurred on that year.” Sorry to hear about your negative search results. I googled Arend-Roland and it listed the Wiki entry as the first source. Gary Kronk’s excellent Cometography site was listed second. Maybe you misspelled the comet’s name?

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