The comet discovered by British comet hunter William F. Denning
in as far back as 1881 had been wandering in the darkness for almost one
century since the discovery and was captured in October 1978 by sharp-eyed
Mr. Shigehisa Fujikawa of Kagawa prefecture. It was thought that this confirmed
the existence of this comet as 72P. However, it was not found at the next
apparition of 1987 and the comet disappeared again into the darkness.
At Geisei Observatory the 60cm reflector had been completed
by then. I searched extensively and deeply along the predicted path of
the comet, but failed to recover it. Thirty-six long years after Mr. Fujikawafs
rediscovery, Mr. Hidetaka Sato of Tokyo recaptured this comet safe and
sound. It was a miraculous recovery accomplished by his uncompromising
hard work and high level of techniques combined by remotely controlled
equipment located overseas under excellent sky conditions.
In the past the comet seems to have often brightened as a
result of outbursts. It was at 6th magnitude at the time of discovery by
Mr. Denning and between 10th and 11th magnitude at the time of rediscovery
in 1978 by Mr. Fujikawa. The following day on October 12 1978, it was at
10.5 magnitude visually when Seki observed it with his 40cm reflector at
Geisei. The coma extended for more than 3 arc-minutes, but there was no
tail. It faded rapidly. This comet seems to have been discovered only in
the years of outbursts just like 18D/Perrine-Mrkos.
From 4:19 am to 4.26 am, October 12, 1978 (J.S.T.)
Seki Observatory at Geisei
40cm f/5 reflector with a Kodak 103a-O photographic plate developed with D-19
Copyright (C) T. Seki
Copyright © 2015 Tsutomu Seki.