Comet Kudo-Fujikawa Near the Sun

Comet Kudo-Fujikawa
Michael Jäger used a Schmidt camera and a 10-minute exposure to capture this image of Comet Kudo-Fujikawa on January 1, 2003 at 5:00 UT. The faint tail is about 1° long.
Early on the morning of December 14, 2002, Japanese amateur Tetuo Kudo was searching the skies with his giant 20 x 120 binoculars. While scanning the constellation Hercules, he spotted something — a fuzzy 9th-magnitude glow moving slowly east-southeast. The new comet (C/2002 X5) was announced on International Astronomical Union Circulars 8032 and 8033, and was officially named Comet Kudo-Fujikawa.

The comet will pass through perihelion on January 29th, perhaps brightening to magnitude 2 or even 1. Unfortunately, it will then be almost directly behind the Sun as seen from Earth, hence virtually impossible to observe. Skywatchers in the Southern Hemisphere will be able to see it emerging from the Sun's glare in early February, in the evening sky.

Comet Kudo-Fujikawa
This image was taken December 20, 2002, at 12:30 UT by Nancy L. Lohmiller of Sharon High School using the MicroObservatory telescope in Cambridge, MA.
When Comet Kudo-Fujikawa is near perihelion, consider using the SOHO spacecraft to follow the comet as it passes by the Sun. Between January 25th and February 1st, Kudo-Fujikawa will be less than 10° from the Sun and should be in the field-of-view of the spacecraft's LASCO C2 and C3 coronagraphs.

The following ephemeris gives the comet's right ascension and declination (equinox 2000.0) at 0 hours Universal Time on each date, its elongation angle from the Sun, predicted magnitude, and the constellation through which it's passing. Although the ephemeris is continuous, the comet will be too close to the Sun to be seen from late January to early February.

Comet Kudo-Fujikawa
Date
(0h UT)
R.A. (2000)
h   m
Dec.
°   '
Elong.
°
Mag.
Const.
Jan. 20 19 55.7 -  0 34 19.9 4.5 Aql
Jan. 22 20 04.7 -  4 13 15.8 3.8 Aql
Jan. 24 20 13.7 -  8 10 11.4 3.1 Aql
Jan. 26 20 23.0 -12 29   6.7 2.3 Cap
Jan. 28 20 33.2 -17 14   2.0 1.7 Cap
Jan. 30 20 44.9 -22 05   4.3 1.7 Cap
Feb.   1 20 58.4 -26 32   9.3 2.2 Cap
Feb.   3 21 13.8 -30 21 13.8 3.0 Mic
Feb.   5 21 31.0 -33 35 17.9 3.7 PsA
Feb.   7 21 50.3 -36 20 21.8 4.3 PsA
Feb.   9 22 11.8 -38 39 25.6 4.8 Gru
Feb. 11 22 35.4 -40 32 29.3 5.2 Gru
Feb. 13 23 01.0 -41 58 32.9 5.6 Gru
Feb. 15 23 28.4 -42 55 36.5 6.0 Phe
Feb. 17 23 56.9 -43 20 40.0 6.3 Phe
Feb. 19   0 25.8 -43 13 43.5 6.6 Phe
Feb. 21   0 54.3 -42 35 46.9 6.9 Phe
Feb. 23 &nbsp 1 21.7 -41 30 50.1 7.2 Phe
Feb. 25   1 47.4 -40 00 53.2 7.5 Phe
Feb. 27   2 11.1 -38 13 56.1 7.7 For