at 0230 UT on May 31, 2003. Pavel's
is between the hashmarks at the lower left;
mine is to the right. (Images courtesy
the SOHO/LASCO consortium. SOHO is a
project of international cooperation
between ESA and NASA.)
On the night of May 30-31, 2003, I drove with two New York City amateur astronomers, Markus Finkemeier and Richard Rosenberg, up to Wilcox Park, near Rhinebeck, New York, for a star party hosted by the Mid-Hudson Astronomy Association. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate; we got a good look at Jupiter, but little else (other than a few tantalizing glimpses of stars before they were covered by stars), though we had a good time talking with the locals. I didnít get home until close to 2 a.m. on the 31st. I logged into SOHO and downloaded the latest images. I noticed, on five consecutive images starting at 0154 UT, a faint speck that by its motion from frame to frame could be a Kreutz comet. However, the images were rather noisy because of a solar storm, and there was a substantial gap in images, between 0254 and 0430 (and no images after that), so it was hard to tell if my object was real or just noise. Nonetheless, I measured the positions, and was pleased to find that they indicated a motion that was surprisingly consistent: a velocity increasing slightly over time, as a true Kreutz comet would as it approached the Sun. I filed a report and then went to sleep.
When Derek Hammer posted confirmations of recent comets, neither mine nor Pavelís were to be seen. I e-mailed Derek, telling him I had expected them to at least become X/comets (comets suspected to be real but unconfirmable due to lack of good positions). He then posted a second note saying he was considering designating mine an X/comet.
mine will have disappeared into the brightness above.
On June 25, Derek Hammer declared them both x-comets, with the following explanation: "Reasons include large time gaps between images, a proton storm occurring throughout, and no significant cometary appearance to distinguish from noise, in addition to the fact that the objects are not visible in many images. Also, Pavels' object suggests a medium bright Kreutz comet which I usually can spot in half-res color filter images. However, I saw nothing in the 2:54 image when the object was at its brightest. I never deny a comet due to absence from these images but it does cast doubt...all of these reasons compel me to call both x-comets."
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