Mission 29P

What is Comet 29P?

This comet (aka 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1) is the most observable that exists and yet we understand very little about it. The Comet Section has therefore launched this special project to ensure that our understanding of it is much improved such that it becomes the most observed comet that we know of.

 This mysterious object is temporarily locked in its present near-circular orbit by the gravity of the giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn. Located at a mean heliocentric distance of 6.0 au, 29P describes an orbit around the Sun every 14.7 years or so, with a perihelion distance of 5.7 au and aphelion of 6.3 au. Because it never approaches the Sun closely, it never exhibits a distinctive tail, i.e. quite unlike most people’s idea of a comet. But like Jupiter and Saturn, the comet is observable during most of each year apart from the couple of months it spends in solar conjunction. Current location in the JPL Small-Body Database Browser.

 

So what can you do as an observer?

First if you want to capture images that can be used to perform photometry then do consult the Observing Tutorial.

Currently Richard Miles coordinates the observing campaign so please direct any queries to him. The main objectives are:

1. Detect any new outburst as soon as possible after it has taken place so that we can (a) determine the time of the event, and (b) initiate ‘target of opportunity’ images with the 2.0-m Faulkes Telescopes to study the resulting expanding coma.

2. Measure the brightness of the inner coma and determine (a) the maximum brightness of each outburst, and (b) follow its subsequent decline photometrically.

3. Establish a long-term archive of: (a) its photometric lightcurve (intensive observations began in 2014); (b) a high-precision astrometry archive (so its orbit is precisely known for the prediction of stellar occultations); and (c) archive images series depicting the development of the expanding coma after each significant outburst

By recording its characteristics in this way it is hoped that we can elucidate the true nature of this object

 

Current Status and Latest Observations:

!!! VERY STRONG OUTBURST on 2020 November 19.77±0.01 (see observations listed below) !!!

Thanks to Jean-François Soulier (L27, Haute-Provence, France) and Nick James (970, Chelmsford, UK) who independently discovered the comet going into outburst, which appears to be attaining a limiting magnitude of about 13.3R, i.e. about 4 mag amplitude. 

29P reached opposition on November 6 and so has now entered the evening sky making it an excellent target for northern hemisphere observers. Located in Aries at a declination of +26 degrees, the comet will be readily visible all night between now and next March. Click on the thumbnail images below for a wide-field finder chart or a topocentric ephemeris of the comet’s position up until 2021 Jan 31.

Here’s the latest light-curve showing its activity during this apparition up until the end of October. Apart from a very strong outburst on July 26, the nucleus has been exhibiting only mini-outbursts some of which have been so weak that there have been instances where a large fraction of the ejecta have, after several days, fallen back onto the nucleus, which measures approx. 64 km across. Our detailed observations are showing that the appreciable gravity of the nucleus can lead to coma collapse – a behaviour unique to Comet 29P !

 

Latest data in MPC format (Date, RA, Dec, Magnitude, Observatory Code, Photometric aperture in arcsec, Comments)

0029P C2020 11 17.89666 02 26 18.43 +26 19 02.8 16.14R Z10 5.5″
0029P C2020 11 17.90054 02 26 18.30 +26 19 01.5 16.16R Z10
0029P C2020 11 17.90446 02 26 18.20 +26 19 01.3 16.13R Z10
 
0029P C2020 11 18.46053 02 26 02.76 +26 17 30.8 16.14R E10 5.4″ star subtracted
0029P C2020 11 18.46143 02 26 02.73 +26 17 30.7 16.13R E10
0029P C2020 11 18.46231 02 26 02.71 +26 17 30.7 16.12R E10
0029P C2020 11 18.46320 02 26 02.69 +26 17 30.5 16.09R E10
 
0029P KC2020 11 18.72929 02 25 55.39 +26 16 43.9 16.02N L27 6.6″
0029P KC2020 11 18.77580 02 25 54.07 +26 16 36.2 16.11N L27
0029P KC2020 11 18.82228 02 25 52.79 +26 16 28.2 15.96N L27
0029P KC2020 11 18.86871 02 25 51.47 +26 16 20.5 16.00N L27
0029P KC2020 11 18.91511 02 25 50.16 +26 16 13.2 15.96N L27
0029P KC2020 11 18.96462 02 25 48.77 +26 16 04.8 16.02N L27
0029P KC2020 11 19.01111 02 25 47.45 +26 15 56.9 16.02N L27
0029P KC2020 11 19.05762 02 25 46.18 +26 15 49.2 16.05N L27
0029P KC2020 11 19.08966 02 25 45.28 +26 15 43.7 15.99N L27
0029P KC2020 11 19.11808 02 25 44.48 +26 15 39.3 16.06N L27
  
0029P KC2020 11 18.85581 16.11R 970 5.8″ 0.28-m +/-0.04
0029P KC2020 11 18.95989 16.12R 970 5.8″ 0.28-m +/-0.03
0029P KC2020 11 19.00142 16.18R 970 5.8″ 0.28-m +/-0.05
  
0029P C2020 11 19.50424 02 25 33.98 +26 14 37.2 16.18R E10 5.4″
 
 0029P C2020 11 19.75174 02 25 27.26 +26 13 52.8 16.23R I81 5.2″
0029P C2020 11 19.75314 02 25 27.20 +26 13 52.7 16.28R I81
 
Outburst at 2020 11 19.77 +/-0.01 16.20R => 13.23R
  
2459173.28262   14.350 R  C    970
2459173.28348   14.274 R  C    970
2459173.28425   14.246 R  C    970
2459173.28501   14.181 R  C    970
2459173.28578   14.150 R  C    970
2459173.28654   14.119 R  C    970
2459173.28730   14.099 R  C    970
2459173.28807   14.044 R  C    970
2459173.28883   14.021 R  C    970
2459173.28959   13.982 R  C    970
 
0029P C2020 11 19.80346 02 25 25.91 +26 13 45.4 13.69R Z17 5.7″
0029P C2020 11 19.80501 02 25 25.86 +26 13 45.2 13.68R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.80657 02 25 25.82 +26 13 44.9 13.66R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.80812 02 25 25.77 +26 13 44.7 13.65R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.80968 02 25 25.73 +26 13 44.4 13.61R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.81124 02 25 25.69 +26 13 44.2 13.60R Z17
 
2459173.31459   13.580 R  C    970
2459173.31536   13.560 R  C    970
2459173.31613   13.567 R  C    970
2459173.31690   13.551 R  C    970
2459173.31766   13.551 R  C    970
2459173.31843   13.545 R  C    970
2459173.31919   13.534 R  C    970
2459173.31995   13.518 R  C    970
2459173.32072   13.524 R  C    970
2459173.32148   13.521 R  C    970
2459173.32245   13.509 R  C    970
2459173.32322   13.510 R  C    970
2459173.32398   13.500 R  C    970
2459173.32475   13.499 R  C    970
2459173.32551   13.503 R  C    970
2459173.32627   13.484 R  C    970
2459173.32704   13.490 R  C    970
2459173.32781   13.485 R  C    970
2459173.32858   13.470 R  C    970
 
0029P C2020 11 19.82146 02 25 25.41 +26 13 42.4 13.47R Z17 5.7″
0029P C2020 11 19.82234 02 25 25.38 +26 13 42.3 13.54R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.82319 02 25 25.35 +26 13 42.1 13.49R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.82406 02 25 25.33 +26 13 42.0 13.50R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.82492 02 25 25.31 +26 13 41.8 13.51R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.82578 02 25 25.29 +26 13 41.7 13.48R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.82664 02 25 25.26 +26 13 41.5 13.52R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.82750 02 25 25.24 +26 13 41.4 13.51R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.82836 02 25 25.22 +26 13 41.3 13.47R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.82923 02 25 25.19 +26 13 41.1 13.47R Z17
 
2459173.33010   13.464 R  C    970
2459173.33087   13.465 R  C    970
2459173.33164   13.461 R  C    970
2459173.33241   13.454 R  C    970
2459173.33317   13.446 R  C    970
2459173.33394   13.441 R  C    970
2459173.33470   13.442 R  C    970
2459173.33546   13.422 R  C    970
2459173.33624   13.434 R  C    970
2459173.33700   13.435 R  C    970
2459173.33777   13.422 R  C    970
2459173.33853   13.428 R  C    970
2459173.33929   13.422 R  C    970
2459173.34007   13.424 R  C    970
2459173.34083   13.418 R  C    970
2459173.34160   13.414 R  C    970
 
0029P C2020 11 19.85678 02 25 24.42 +26 13 36.6 13.46R Z17 5.7″
0029P C2020 11 19.85764 02 25 24.40 +26 13 36.4 13.44R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.86365 02 25 24.22 +26 13 35.2 13.46R Z17 star subtracted
0029P C2020 11 19.86451 02 25 24.20 +26 13 35.3 13.44R Z17 star subtracted
  
0029P C2020 11 19.89844 02 25 23.26 +26 13 29.7 13.39R Z17 5.7″
0029P C2020 11 19.89930 02 25 23.24 +26 13 29.5 13.37R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.90016 02 25 23.20 +26 13 29.5 13.36R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.90106 02 25 23.18 +26 13 29.2 13.36R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.90192 02 25 23.16 +26 13 29.0 13.37R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.90278 02 25 23.14 +26 13 28.8 13.36R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.90364 02 25 23.11 +26 13 28.7 13.39R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.90451 02 25 23.09 +26 13 28.7 13.35R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.90537 02 25 23.07 +26 13 28.4 13.37R Z17
0029P C2020 11 19.90623 02 25 23.04 +26 13 28.3 13.38R Z17
  
0029P C2020 11 19.92789 02 25 22.37 +26 13 24.5 13.35R Z10 5.5″
0029P C2020 11 19.93177 02 25 22.27 +26 13 23.9 13.36R Z10
0029P C2020 11 19.93566 02 25 22.18 +26 13 23.2 13.36R Z10
0029P C2020 11 19.93956 02 25 22.06 +26 13 22.6 13.35R Z10

0029P C2020 11 19.98318 02 25 20.90 +26 13 15.6 13.34R Z21 5.7″
0029P C2020 11 19.98405 02 25 20.87 +26 13 15.5 13.34R Z21
0029P C2020 11 19.98491 02 25 20.85 +26 13 15.2 13.32R Z21
0029P C2020 11 19.98578 02 25 20.84 +26 13 15.2 13.33R Z21
0029P C2020 11 19.98664 02 25 20.80 +26 13 15.1 13.32R Z21
0029P C2020 11 19.98750 02 25 20.77 +26 13 15.0 13.35R Z21
0029P C2020 11 19.98836 02 25 20.75 +26 13 14.7 13.31R Z21
0029P C2020 11 19.98922 02 25 20.72 +26 13 14.7 13.35R Z21
0029P C2020 11 19.99008 02 25 20.70 +26 13 14.4 13.31R Z21
0029P C2020 11 19.99095 02 25 20.68 +26 13 14.6 13.32R Z21
  
0029P C2020 11 20.13077 02 25 16.97 +26 12 50.0 13.26R 718 5.2″
0029P C2020 11 20.13230 02 25 16.92 +26 12 49.9 13.27R 718
0029P C2020 11 20.13383 02 25 16.88 +26 12 49.6 13.27R 718
0029P C2020 11 20.13535 02 25 16.82 +26 12 49.3 13.27R 718
0029P C2020 11 20.13688 02 25 16.79 +26 12 49.0 13.27R 718
0029P C2020 11 20.13841 02 25 16.76 +26 12 48.9 13.26R 718
0029P C2020 11 20.13994 02 25 16.71 +26 12 48.6 13.27R 718
0029P C2020 11 20.14147 02 25 16.67 +26 12 48.3 13.27R 718
0029P C2020 11 20.14299 02 25 16.62 +26 12 48.1 13.27R 718
0029P C2020 11 20.14452 02 25 16.58 +26 12 47.8 13.27R 718
  
0029P C2020 11 20.20419 02 25 14.90 +26 12 38.0 13.24R V39 5.5″ 1.0-m
0029P C2020 11 20.20520 02 25 14.87 +26 12 37.9 13.24R V39
0029P C2020 11 20.20621 02 25 14.85 +26 12 37.7 13.24R V39
0029P C2020 11 20.20722 02 25 14.82 +26 12 37.5 13.24R V39
  
0029P C2020 11 20.21134 02 25 14.82 +26 12 36.8 13.23R T04 5.7″
0029P C2020 11 20.21288 02 25 14.71 +26 12 36.9 13.21R T04
0029P C2020 11 20.21444 02 25 14.72 +26 12 36.5 13.22R T04
0029P C2020 11 20.21602 02 25 14.67 +26 12 36.1 13.21R T04
0029P C2020 11 20.21756 02 25 14.62 +26 12 36.2 13.22R T04
0029P C2020 11 20.21911 02 25 14.57 +26 12 35.6 13.22R T04
  
0029P C2020 11 20.36499 02 25 10.54 +26 12 11.5 13.24R T03 5.7″
0029P C2020 11 20.36585 02 25 10.51 +26 12 11.3 13.24R T03
0029P C2020 11 20.36669 02 25 10.50 +26 12 11.2 13.23R T03
0029P C2020 11 20.36754 02 25 10.47 +26 12 11.0 13.24R T03
0029P C2020 11 20.36839 02 25 10.44 +26 12 10.9 13.24R T03
  
0029P C2020 11 20.48755 02 25 07.25 +26 11 52.2 13.26R Q59 5.7″ 0.4-m
0029P C2020 11 20.48842 02 25 07.21 +26 11 52.1 13.24R Q59
0029P C2020 11 20.48932 02 25 07.20 +26 11 51.7 13.25R Q59
0029P C2020 11 20.49018 02 25 07.15 +26 11 51.5 13.25R Q59
 
0029P C2020 11 20.55604 02 25 05.33 +26 11 40.2 13.21R E10 5.4″
0029P C2020 11 20.55693 02 25 05.31 +26 11 40.0 13.20R E10
0029P C2020 11 20.55781 02 25 05.29 +26 11 40.1 13.22R E10

0029P C2020 11 20.55869 02 25 05.26 +26 11 39.7 13.23R E10

—– end —–

 

List of Observers:

List of Observatory Codes / Observers / Instruments / Photometric aperture in arcsec

N.B. This is a comprehensive list of observatories/people whose work has contributed to the current Observing Campaign, which began in 2014 February.

203 G. Galli, S. Foglia Italy 0.36-m f/5.76 Schmidt-Cassegrain 5.5
204 L. Buzzi, A. Aletti Italy 0.36-m f/6.5 reflector 4.8/6.0; Italy 0.84-m f/3.5 reflector 5.6
213 R. Naves, M. Campas Spain 0.30-m f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain 10.0 square; Spain 0.30-m f/9 Schmidt-Cassegrain 5.4
323 P. Camilleri, J. Oey, R. Miles Australia 0.40-m f/5 reflector (Perth)
718 P. Wiggins Utah, USA 0.35-m f/7 Schmidt-Cassegrain 5.2
970 N. James England 0.28-m f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain 5.2/5.8 check
A06 E. Cortes Spain 0.25-m f/3.6 Schmidt-Cassegrain 10.0 square
A77 J.-F. Soulier, F. Kugel France 0.20-m f/4 Newtonian reflector 5.0/6.6
B74 J. M. Bosch Spain 0.40-m f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain 10.0 square
B96 E. Bryssinck Belgium 0.4-m f/3.8 astrograph 5.0
C10 J.-F. Soulier France 0.30-m f/3.8 Newtonian reflector 6.5
C42 Q. Ye (Zwicky Transient Facility) Xingming, China 0.50-m ?
C77 A. Mantero Italy 0.25-m f/4 Reflector 6.7
C90 L. Tremosa Spain 0.30-m f/5 reflector 10.0 square
E94 J. Drummond N.Zealand 0.35-m f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain 5.9; 0.41-m f/5.2 Newtonian 7.2; 0.41-m f/4.5 Newtonian 6.0
G40 J. Tuten Canary Isles 0.43-m f/6.8 Dall-Kirkham 5.0
H06 N. James New Mexico 0.43-m f/4.5 5.8; A. Watkins New Mexico 0.43-m f/4.5 5.8
I41 Q. Ye (Zwicky Transient Facility) Palomar, USA 1.20-m f/2.5
I64 A. Jones England 0.19-m f/5.2 Mak-Newt + Rc filter 5.6
I81 D. Buczynski Scotland 0.35-m f/6 Schmidt-Cassegrain 5.2
I88 J. Carrillo Spain 0.36-m f/5 reflector 10.0 square
J01 J. Gonzalez Spain 0.15-m f/6 Ritchey-Chretien 10.0 square
J22 K. Hills La Palma 0.50-m f/2.9 astrograph 5.9, 10.0 square
J24 J. F. Hernandez Spain 0.4-m f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain 10.0 square
J38 F. Garcia Spain 0.25-m f/8.1 Ritchey-Chretien 10.0 square
J47 G. Muler Lanzarote 0.30-m Schmdt-Cassegrain 6.1
J77 R. Miles England 0.35-m f/8 Schmidt-Cassegrain + r’ 5.4 also V, B, Clear
K01 A. Watkins England 0.35-m f/7.7 Schmidt-Cassegrain 6.2
K02 P. Carson England 0.32-m f/5.4 Dall-Kirkham 5.5/6.5
K14 M. Morales Spain 0.25-m f/5 Newtonian 5.7, 10.0 square
L27 J.-F. Soulier France 0.20-m f/4 Newtonian reflector 6.5
Q38 M. Mattiazzo Australia 0.28-m f/6.3 Schmidt-Cassegrain 5.5
Q67 P. Camilleri, J. Oey, R. Miles Australia 0.32-m F/8.8 RCOS 5.5
Q68 P. Camilleri, J. Oey, H. Williams Australia 0.30-m f/3.0 reflector 7.4; P. Camilleri, J. Oey Australia 0.34-m f/5.9 SCT
W88 K. Breedlove, J. Tuten, A. Hale Chile 0.35-m f/11 Schmidt-Cassegrain (Slooh) ???
W96 J.-F.Soulier, A.Maury, J.-B. de Vanssay Chile 0.4-m f/5.2 Ritchey-Chretien 6.4
Z10 P. Carson Spain 0.32-m f/5.4 Dall-Kirkham 5.5
Z30 D. Storey England 0.35-m Ritchey-Chretien 5.9
Z39 A. Acosta Lanzarote 0.23-m Schmidt-Cassegrain 10.0 square
Z42 J. Savage England 0.35-m f/7.7 Schmidt-Cassegrain + V 5.5, 7.9
Z74 F. Soldan Spain 0.20-m f/6.7 Schmidt-Cassegrain 10.0 square
Z80 G. Wells, D. Bamberger England 0.25-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 6.7
Z85 T. Angel Spain 0.35-m f/11 Schmidt-Cassegrain 5.6
XXX C.S. Morris California, USA 0.406-m f/6.8 Schmidt-Cassegrain 4.84

Las Cumbres Observatory / Faulkes Telescope Project (R. Miles, A. Hale):

A major contribution to this ’24/7′ comet monitoring activity have been the observations from the Las Cumbres Observatory global network of telescopes. Access to this network has been made available thanks to the Dill Faulkes Education Trust, and to Dr Paul Roche of the Faulkes Telescope Project based at Cardiff University, Wales assisted by Alison Tripp.  

E10 coj 2m0a Siding Spring-FT South 2.0-m f/10 Ritchey-Chretien 5.4
F65 ogg 2m0a Haleakala-FT North 2.0-m f/10 Ritchey-Chretien 5.4

K91 cpt Sutherland A S. Africa 1.0-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.5
K92 cpt Sutherland B S. Africa 1.0-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.5
K93 cpt Sutherland C S. Africa 1.0-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.5
Q63 coj Siding Spring A Australia 1.0-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.5
Q64 coj Siding Spring B Australia 1.0-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.5
V37 elp McDonald Observatory A Texas, USA 1.0-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.5
V39 elp McDonald Observatory B Texas, USA 1.0-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.5
W85 lsc Cerro Tololo A Chile 1.0-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.5
W86 lsc Cerro Tololo B Chile 1.0-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.5
W87 lsc Cerro Tololo C Chile 1.0-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.5

L09 cpt Sutherland Aqawan A #1 S. Africa 0.4-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.7
Q58 coj Siding Spring Clamshell #1 Australia 0.4-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.7
Q59 coj Siding Spring Clamshell #2 Australia 0.4-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.7
T03 ogg Haleakala Clamshell #2 Hawaii, USA 0.4-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.7
T04 ogg Haleakala Clamshell #1 Hawaii, USA 0.4-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.7
V38 elp McDonald Obs. Aqawan A #1 Texas, USA 0.4-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.7
W79 lsc Cerro Tololo Aqawan B #1 Chile 0.4-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.7
W89 lsc Cerro Tololo Aqawan A #1 Chile 0.4-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.7
Z17 tfn Tenerife Aqawan A #2 Spain 0.4-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.7
Z21 tfn Tenerife Aqawan A #1 Spain 0.4-m f/8 Ritchey-Chretien 5.7

—-

Outburst Video

Below is a video made from a series of some 57 images taken with 1.0-m telescopes of the Las Cumbres Observatory network over a two-month period showing an outburst that began on 2018 August 01 and which brightened from magnitude 16.5R to reach magnitude 14.2R within just a few hours. The field of view is about 2 arcminutes square. If necessary, to see the animated video clip, right click on the image and select ‘Open image in new tab’ then open the new tab.

 

Archive Data:

High-precision Astrometry (2009 – 2020)

Photometry (2020-2021) – PDF

Photometry (2020-2021) – textfile updated 2020-Nov-15

Photometry (2019-2020)

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