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Memorable Comets

Comet Tempel 2

    10P/Tempel is a periodic comet discovered by comet hunter Tempel of Milan far back in 1873. It has an orbital period of about 5 years and has become brighter at each apparition thus enjoying a popularity among amateur astronomers. At the last apparition it passed perihelion in July 2010 shining brightly at 9th to 10th magnitude.
    What should be specially mentioned about this comet is that it was recovered by Prof. Kudara of the University of Kyoto at its 1920 apparition. He was an authority on astronomical orbital theories. He is said to have recovered this comet to verify the accuracy of his prediction made by calculating perturbation following the previous apparition. He recovered this comet at the next apparition of 1925, but he didn't tell this to anybody with his characteristic modesty, according to one anecdote. In fact, Prof. Kudara's recovery that year is not recorded in Brian Marsden's "Comet Catalog". It was the truth that only his colleague Issei Yamamoto knew.
    It is said that Prof. Kudara had his residence at Midosuji in Osaka and was observing there when he recovered Comet Tempel 2. It was at 10.5 magnitude. At this magnitude it would not be easy to observe visually even under dark skies today. But he found it from the middle of the bustling city. What's more surprising is he used a home-built 10cm- or 15cm-aperture refractor, which had only a single lens, according to Shigeru Kanda, an authority on the comet at the former Tokyo Astronomical Observatory.
    When I look at the beautiful blue diffused coma of this comet, memories of the bygone days return as if these things happened just yesterday.

Comet Tempel 2

02:56, June 17, 2010 (J.S.T.)
70cm reflector with Nikon D700 at Geisei Observatory
Photographed by Tsutomu Seki

Copyright © 2013 Tsutomu Seki.