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Russian astronomer discovers new comet using his own cutting-edge telescope

For Elenin, who is a record holder among Russian astronomers by the number of discovered comets, this is the sixth comet
Сomet C/2017 A3 (Elenin) Ernesto Guido
Сomet C/2017 A3 (Elenin)
© Ernesto Guido

ST. PETERSBUG, January 13. /TASS/. Leonid Elenin, a Russian astronomer and researcher at the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics has discovered a new comet using an advanced telescope in Australia and his personally-crafted observatory-based automated remote control software.

"The C/2017 A3 [Elenin] was discovered in the southern sky at the boundary of the Carina and Puppis constellations during a planned observation using an Australian ISON-network telescope. It has an 18-star magnitude and is accessible for amateur telescopes," the scientist told TASS.

For Elenin, a record-holder among Russian astronomers by the number of comets discovered, this is his sixth comet and the first one found with the software developed by the scientist for remote control of observatories.

"The telescope discovered the comet on January 5. On the same day, I saw an image and transferred the data to the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams and the Minor Planet Center at Harvard. The comet was designated as C/2017 A3 [Elenin]. Other astronomers have joined in to observe it and independent confirmations of the discovery have been received as of today by observatories located in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Australia," the astronomer said.

Possibilities for comet’s observation and study

Though its luster is at its utmost intensity, the comet's size is still unclear. It is accessible for observation only by telescopes in the southern hemisphere. By summer, it will be also possible to spot it from Russia, the scientist said.

"In Russia, according to ballpark estimates, several hundred amateur astronomers can be found with equipment allowing them to distinguish the comet," he said.

However, starting from the end of winter, the comet’s luster will be gradually dying down only to revive its intensity by the beginning of 2018, he noted.

From the second half of winter next year, it will again start to sharply lose its brightness and will be inaccessible by early spring for amateur observations but large telescopes will still be able to observe it for long time, the scientist said.

"It will be accessible for scientific observation and study until the summer of 2018,"  Elenin added.