09 August 2020 - Mission Day: 9018 - DOY: 222

A Thousand Comets - A Tribute to Amateurs

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Comets SOHO-999 and

Comets SOHO-999 and

Comets SOHO-999 and SOHO-1000. Note that although SOHO-1000 is "ahead" of SOHO-999, and they appear in the same images, it was so inconspicuous that it was not spotted and reported until a few minutes after SOHO-999.
Movie: 640x480, 320x240. Print media: High-res TIFF version of still image.

It's finally official: SOHO comets can no longer be designated with only three digits. On 5 August 2005, Toni Scarmato, a high school teacher from San Costantino di Briatico, Calabria, Italy, discovered SOHO's 999th and 1000th comet. Scarmato, an astrophysics graduate of Bologna University, said "I am very happy for this special experience that is possible thanks to the SOHO satellite and NASA-ESA collaboration. I want to dedicate the SOHO 1000th comet to my wife Rosy and my son Kevin to compensate for the time that I have taken from them to search for SOHO comets".

The winner of the SOHO 1000th Comet Contest was Andrew Dolgopolov of Dublin, Ireland, who guessed the time of the comet's closest approach to the Sun (perihelion time) within 22 minutes. The runner-up was David Spangler of Havertown, Pennsylvania, USA, and third place goes to Gary Toller of Columbia, MD, USA. Congratulations!

But most of all, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the SOHO "comet hunters". Spending countless hours searching the data downloaded from the web, sometimes only an hour after the images were taken, sometimes years later when looking for overlooked specks of light, the world-wide community of hundreds of amateur astronomers have made a huge contribution to science: The catalog of 1000 SOHO comets (and counting!) has nearly doubled the number of comets with known orbital parameters, and forms a treasure trove of data for researchers investigating the nature of our solar system. There is no way this could have been done without you: Thank you!

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Last modification: July 27, 2020

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