New Comet C/2020 F8 (SWAN)

CBET 4750 & 4752 & MPEC 2020-G94, issued on 2020, April 13, announce the discovery of a comet (total magnitude ~8.5) by M. Mattiazzo in the low-resolution public website hydrogen Lyman-alpha images obtained with the Solar Wind Anisotropies (SWAN) camera on the Solar and Heliospheric Observer (SOHO) spacecraft. The new comet has been designated C/2020 F8 (SWAN).

Our confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version).

We performed follow-up measurements of this object while it was still on the PCCP webpage through the Telescope Live network.

Stacking of 3 unfiltered exposures, 30 seconds each, obtained remotely on 2020, April 11.4 from X02 (Telescope Live, Chile) through a 0.6-m f/6.5 astrograph + CCD, shows that this object is a comet with a compact coma about 5' in diameter and a tail 6' long in PA 220. Total magnitude 8.4.

Stacking of 3 unfiltered exposures, 120 seconds each, obtained remotely on 2020, April 11.7 from Q56 (Telescope Live, Australia) through a 0.1-m f/3.6 astrograph + CCD, shows that this object is a comet with a compact coma about 8' in diameter and a tail 25' long in PA 220.

MPEC 2020-G94, assigns the following preliminary parabolic orbital elements to comet  C/2020 F8: T 2020 May 27.59; e= 0.99; Peri. =  68.33; q = 0.42;  Incl.= 110.69

Below you can see a graph generated using the software Orbitas and showing the C/2020 F8 (SWAN) predicted magnitude (in red) versus the maximum height (for Northern Hemisphere). Click on the image for a bigger version. Preliminar orbit has the comet 0.4 AU from Sun with a peak magnitude at about 3 mag. at the end of May 2020! (as always with comets, the future magnitudes reported here are only indicative).  Elongation will start to decrease at the beginning of May 2020 and it will be about 20 degrees at the peak magnitude. Maximum height will be very bad for Northern Hemisphere at peak that is around 3 degrees from the horizon. Then the comet will appears in the morning sky at 11.5 mag in August and it will be observable in good condition after that while fading.  

by Ernesto Guido, Marco Rocchetto & Adriano Valvasori