DPS 34th Meeting, October 2002
Session 16. Comets
Poster, Chair(s): , Tuesday, October 8, 2002, 3:30-6:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[16.01] Pre-Activity BVRI Colors of High-Inclination Comet C/2001 OG108 (LONEOS)

L.M. French (Illinois Wesleyan University)

On July 28, 2001, minor planet 2001 OG108 was discovered with the LONEOS telescope at Lowell Observatory. Its highly eccentric orbit takes it closer to the Sun than the Earth, and beyond the planet Uranus. Additionally, its orbit is inclined ~80 degrees with respect to the ecliptic. Fewer than 20 minor planets with similar orbits are known; the group is called Damocloids, after the first such object discovered, 5333 Damocles. Because of the similarity of the orbits of these objects to those of Comet Halley and other comets thought to have come from the Oort Cloud, it has been widely speculated that the Damocloids may be extinct Oort cloud comets.

In October, 2001, 2001 OG108 was observed on two nights with the 1.1 m (42-inch) telescope of Lowell Observatory. In February 2002, the object developed a small coma, and its designation was changed to C/LONEOS 2001 OG108 (IAU Circular 7814.) Our October data show: 1) image profiles consistent with those of background stars, implying no detectable cometary activity in October, and 2) BVRI colors consistent with those of inert comet nuclei and the D-class of asteroids common in the Trojan clouds.

Support from the Provost of Illinois Wesleyan University and the Wheelock College Faculty Research and Development Fund is gratefully acknowledged.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.