DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 26. Comets I: Large, Heliocentric
Oral, Chairs: M. Sykes and D. H. Wooden, Thursday, September 4, 2003, 3:30-4:30pm, DeAnza III

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[26.01] Near-nucleus photometry of comets using archived NEAT data.

M. Hicks, R. Bambery, K. Lawrence (JPL/Caltech)

The Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) Program at the Jet Propulsion laboratory remotely operates two autonomous 1.2-meter telescopes at widely geographically separated locations on a near-nightly basis. Though optimized for the discovery of near-Earth asteroids, we have collected over 400 CCD images of approximately 50 short and long-period comets over the last 25 months. Using the R-band magnitudes as archived in the USNO catalog of background field stars, we are able to derive photometrically calibrations accurate to approximately ±0.1 mag over a wide range of seeing and sky transparency.

The NEAT archive represents a large, self-consistent cometary data-set which we have used to explore activity as a function of heliocentric distance, dust production (Afrho), cometary dust trails, etc. We have modeled the coma contamination for comets at large heliocentric distance (>3 AU) and have obtained upper limits for nuclear magnitudes and constraints to the cometary size-frequency distribution.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.