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C.M. Lisse (University of Maryland), Y.R. Fernandez (University of Hawaii), D.A. Biesecker (NASA/GSFC)
The joint NASA/ESA solar observatory SOHO mission observed comet 96P/Machholz 1 in 4 broad band optical/near-IR filters on 7 Jan 2002 to 11 Jan 2002. The observations provided a unique opportunity to observe this bright comet's extended coma and dust tail structure through its extremely close pereihelion passage (q = 0.1 AU). Because of the small perihelion distance, the dust emission velocities and production rates are much larger than for the typical comet observation at ~ 1 AU; a preliminary calculation suggests the dust observable in the ~ 10' tail is replenished daily. Because the comet is passing through perihelion, the dust tail is highly structured and contains a copious amount of information on the properties of the constiuent dust. We present preliminary images, light curves, spectrophotometry, and dynamical models of the comet's dust coma and tail.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.