On the 27th February 2015, two Electronic Circulars were issued by the Minor Planet Center (MPECs) confirming the discovery of two comets. Slooh members helped confirm the discoveries. Once again, collaboration between Slooh members made this achievement possible. Bernd Lutkenhoner coordinated the effort with Colin Drescher and Paul Cox providing data from their missions using the Slooh Chile C1 High Magnification telescope. Bernd performed the astrometric measurements on the images and made the formal submissions to the Minor Planet Center.
A few days later and the MPECs were issued confirming the discoveries of two new comets:
Comet C/2015 C2 (SWAN)
Comet C/2015 D3 (PanSTARRS)
How could you confirm a comet?
So how do you go about confirming an object is a comet? Well the first thing you need to do is to find out what potential discoveries have been made so you can make follow-up observations. In the case of comets, you go to the “Possible Comet Confirmation Page” (PCCP) on the Minor Planet Center’s website.
The page will generate the most likely coordinates based on the few observations already made of the candidate comet. You’d then set-up multiple comet coordinate missions up using either the Canary Islands or Chile observatories (see below). If you can identify the object, you perform astrometry on the images to measure its position. If you’re a Slooh member and have been approved to make submissions to the Minor Planet Center, you can make the submission on behalf of the Slooh Community.