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Ishigaki observatory researchers discover a new comet near Mars

Date Posted: 2011-08-26

A previously unknown new comet has been discovered by researchers at the Ishigaki Island Astronomical Observatory.

The comet, traveling in a comet belt trailing the known comet Van Ness moving around Mars on an oval track, was spotted by a researcher and a research engineer at 2:29 a.m. on July 30th and reported to the International Astronomical Union a day later. Hidekazu Hanayama and Hideo Fukushima were able to take a picture of the come, which they describe as child-like because it resembles a broken piece of ice that perhaps came off the comet Van Ness.

The comets are not visible to the naked eye, because the comets’ brightness is limited; Van Ness is 13 degrees and the new child comet is 20 degrees. The Ishigaki Island Observatory is investigating when the child comet was born, and how much speed it will take to move away from Van Ness. They’re watching closely, because Van Ness is expected to go around to the other side of the sun beginning in September.

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