The brighter comets of 2008

This report describes and analyses the observations of the brighter or more interesting comets discovered or at perihelion during 2008, concentrating on those with visual observations. Magnitude parameters are given for all comets with observations. Information on other comets seen during the year may be found on the Comet Section web page.

233 comets were assigned year designations in 2008 and 33 previously numbered periodic comets returned to perihelion. 169 comets were discovered from the SOHO satellite and STEREO found its first eight; of these 142 were members of the Kreutz group, 12 were members of the Meyer group, 3 of the Marsden group, 6 of the Kracht group and 14 were not associated with any known group. There were four amateur discoveries (2008 C1, N1, Q1 and Q2) for which Tao Chen (Suzhou City, Jiangsu province, China) and Xing Gao (Urumqi, Xinjiang province, China); Robert E. Holmes Jr. (Charleston, IL, USA); Stanislav Maticic (Crni Vrh Observatory, Slovenia) and Michel Ory (Delemont, Switzerland) received the Edgar Wilson Award. Fifteen periodic comets were numbered. Two comets were reported as visible to the naked eye during the year.

Orbital elements for all the comets discovered and returning during the year can be found on the JPL Small-Body Database Browser, which will also generate ephemerides. Discovery details and some information for the other comets found or returning during the year are available on the Comet Section web pages, which also contain links to additional background information.

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