Russian astronomer and researcher at the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics Leonid Elenin has discovered a new comet with a telescope in Australia and the automated observatory 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 telescope of the ISON network. It has an 18-star magnitude and is accessible for amateur telescopes," the scientist told TASS.
For Elenin, who is a record holder among Russian astronomers by the number of discovered comets, this is the 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 information 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 the effort to observe it and independent confirmations of the discovery have been received as of today by the observatories located in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Australia," the astronomer said.
The comet is currently at the peak of its shininess and its size is unclear yet. It is accessible for observation only by telescopes installed in the southern hemisphere. By summer, it will be also possible to observe it from the territory of Russia, the scientist said.
"In Russia, according to very approximate estimates, several hundred amateur astronomers can be found with equipment allowing them to discern the comet," he said.
However, starting from the end of winter, the comet will be losing its shininess and will shine maximally again by the beginning of 2018, he noted.
From the second half of winter next year, it will again start to sharply lose its shininess 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.