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Reports from Geisei Observatory<March 16, 1999>

• Comet LINEA(1998 M5) dashed across the sky passing within 10' of the north celestial pole at midnight on March 15. That particular day the Shikoku area was struck by a spring storm and at night it was windy with clouds flying fast. However, at 22:00 miraculously Polaris was visible and I was able to see LINEAR close by. The comet appeared as a faint blob of light in the 20cm refractor at 60x. The magnitude was 10.7 (m1), with the coma 2-minutes across. By switching off the motor for the 60cm telescope, a photograph of the trails of the stars was taken.

The bright star is Polaris and the comet (an arrow) is seen shining faintly between Polaris and the true celestial pole. 18 years ago, Comet Panther passed through the same position 18 years ago. Compare this photo with the photo taken at that time.
Comet Panther was at magnitude 8, 2 magnitudes brighter, with a short tail. Are these two comets twins which broke up tens of thousands of years ago?

LINEAR(1998 M5)and Polaris (upper right)
a 20-minute exposure from 22:28 on March 15, 1999
Fuji Super G400 ACE pushed to 800

| The center of the photo enlarged | The comet enlarged greatly |

LINEAR is seen at the center of the photograph appearing as a small point of light. The celestial north pole is a little left. The photo was taken by aiming the 60cm (f:2400 mm) to the north pole and turning off the drive motor for 20 minutes.

Copyright (C) 1999 Tsutomu Seki.