Today's Comet Hunters

Modern day comet hunting takes up the lives of some very dedicated amateurs searching the sky every night to find comets. Many of the names of today’s comet hunters will be familiar: two of the most prolific comet hunters Carolyn Shoemaker and David levy became household names after discovering Shoemaker-Levy 9, a comet famous for impacting with Jupiter. Carolyn has discovered 32 comets during her career as a comet hunter which started in 1980 and David Levy has discovered 21 comets. Comet finding is also very popular in Japan where one of the most successful comet finders is Tsutomu Seki; he discovered 6 comets from 1961 to 1970 and helped to rediscover 28 periodic comets.

You can follow Tsutomu work at

Many of the comets found today are found by professional groups of astronomers looking for space objects that could collide with the Earth. Groups like LINEAR and NEAT use automated comet finding telescopes that use computers to help search for comets. The Soho satellite discovers many comets as they fly into the Sun to their doom.

Due to the large number of comets found by the near Earth asteroid programs and the work of amateur astronomers a new system of recording and naming comets was invented. You can learn more about it here

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REF: Cm0614


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