C/2001 A2  LINEAR
The Great Binocular Comet of 2001
Closest to Sun on 24 May 2001 at 0.78AU
Closest to Earth on 30 June 2001 at 0.24AU
Maximum magnitude 3 in June 2001
Period = 48,226 yrs

This fascinating comet experienced several outbursts during its apparition, largely due to fragmentation of the nucleus.

It was first discovered by the LINEAR project on Jan 15th, 2001. Based on initial brightness estimates,
the comet was predicted to reach a maximum magnitude of 10 in mid June.
However by March 29th, I was already estimating it at magnitude 10.8.
The following evening of March 30th, it had brightened to magnitude 8.0. Over 2 orders of magnitude!
The comet continued to brighten slowly during early April, but on April 24th and May 11th,
further minor outbursts occurred, when it shone at magnitude 6.5 and 5.4 respectively.


2001 May 21.40 UT.
This photo was taken on the evening of May 21st. The comet shone at magnitude 5.1
and displayed an ion tail 5.3 degrees long through 25x100mm binoculars.
The constellation of Columba appears at upper left and Lepus at lower right.
An ion tail is seen stretching nearly 10 degrees through Sigma Col in this image.

After perihelion, comet LINEAR moved into the morning sky during June,
when another spectacular brightness surge was observed on the morning of June 13th.
It achieved its maximum  magnitude of 3.3 and displayed a ion tail >2.5 degrees visually
and >8 degrees on a photograph. Unfortunately moonlight interfered with the spectacle.


2001 Jun 12.82 UT.
50mm lens, 30 second exposure, fuji 800 ASA.

5 mornings later, comet LINEAR shone at magnitude 4.2.
The tail reached a maximum visual length of >5 degrees through 25x100mm binoculars
and >14 degrees on a photograph as seen below. The comets head is just below Tau3 Eri. 

 
2001 Jun 17.75 UT.
50mm lens, cropped 2 minute exposure, fuji 800 ASA

By the morning of June 20th, the tail length had dropped considerably,
now only >3.5 degrees, and the comet shone at magnitude 4.2.


2001 Jun 19.75 UT.
50mm lens, cropped 2 minute exposure, fuji 800 ASA
 


2001 Jun 30.75 UT.
50mm lens, cropped 2 minute exposure, fuji 800 ASA
On the morning of July 1st, the comet had faded to magnitude 4.5
but a long faint ion tail >10 degrees was captured photographically.
Star left of centre is Iota Ceti, upper right Beta Ceti, lower right Eta Ceti.

See below a light curve based on my personal observations.
Calculated magnitude parameters. Ho=7.4, n=5.4


 

 

This was the position of the comet at perihelion, located below the ecliptic and moving northwards.

Below are my observations in ICQ format

2001A2 2001 03 26.46 S 10.7 TJ 20 L 7 45 3.0 2/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 03 28.44 S 10.7 TJ 20 L 7 45 3.5 2/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 03 29.46 S 10.8 TJ 20 L 7 45 3.0 2/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 03 30.52 M 8.0 TJ 10 B 25 3.0 4/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 01.52 M 7.9 TJ 10 B 25 4.0 3/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 02.42 M 8.0 TJ 10 B 25 4.0 3/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 03.44 M 8.4 TJ 10 B 25 3.0 4 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 04.46 M 8.3 TJ 10 B 25 3.0 4 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 05.44 M 8.3 TJ 10 B 25 3.0 4 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 09.44 M 8.4 TJ 10 B 25 3.0 4 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 11.44 M 8.3 TJ 10 B 25 3.0 4/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 12.44 M 8.3 TJ 10 B 25 3.0 4/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 13.50 M 8.2 TJ 10 B 25 3.0 4/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 14.47 M 8.2 TJ 10 B 25 3.0 4/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 15.50 M 8.2 TJ 10 B 25 3.0 4/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 16.49 M 7.9 TJ 10 B 25 3.5 4/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 17.43 M 7.8 TJ 10 B 25 4.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 18.43 B 7.6 TJ 5 B 7 4.5 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 19.44 B 7.6 TJ 5 B 7 4.5 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 20.44 B 7.5 TJ 5 B 7 4.5 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 21.46 B 7.4 TJ 5 B 7 4.5 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 22.44 B 7.2 TJ 5 B 7 4.5 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 24.42 B 6.5 TJ 5 B 7 5.0 5/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 25.46 B 6.6 TJ 5 B 7 5.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 26.43 B 6.5 TJ 5 B 7 5.5 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 27.44 B 6.4 TJ 5 B 7 5.5 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 28.44 B 6.3 TJ 5 B 7 5.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 29.43 B 6.2 TJ 5 B 7 5.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 04 30.46 B 6.0 TJ 5 B 7 5.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 01.46 B 5.9 TJ 5 B 7 5.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 04.38 B 6.1 TJ 5 B 7 3.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 06.40 B 6.0 TJ 5 B 7 3.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 07.44 B 6.0 TJ 5 B 7 3.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 09.44 B 6.1 TJ 5 B 7 3.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 10.40 B 6.1 TJ 5 B 7 5.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 11.40 B 5.4 TJ 5 B 7 4.0 6/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 15.41 B 5.5 TJ 5 B 7 7.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 17.42 B 5.2 TJ 5 B 7 7.0 7 1.0 140 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 20.40 B 5.1 TJ 5 B 7 7.0 6/ 2.0 142 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 21.40 B 5.1 TJ 5 B 7 7.0 6/ 3.0 143 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 22.42 B 5.1 TJ 5 B 7 7.0 6/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 05 26.38 B 5.2 TJ 5 B 7 5.0 7 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 06 03.38 B 4.6 TJ 5 B 7 8.0 6/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 06 03.83 B 4.3 TJ 5 B 7 10.0 7 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 06 12.82 B 3.3 TJ 5 12.0 7 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 06 13.83 B 3.4 TJ 5 10.0 7 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 06 17.75 B 4.2 TJ 5 15.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 06 18.79 B 4.3 TJ 5 15.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 06 19.77 B 4.2 TJ 5 15.0 6 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 06 23.77 B 4.0 TJ 5 20.0 5/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 06 29.69 B 4.3 TJ 5 20.0 5/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 01.83 B 4.5 TT 5 20.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 02.69 B 4.7 TT 5 B 7 10.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 03.69 B 4.7 TT 5 B 7 9.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 05.63 B 5.0 TT 5 B 7 10. 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 11.69 B 5.6 TT 5 B 7 7.0 4/ ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 12.56 B 5.3 TT 5 B 7 8.0 7 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 12.65 B 5.1 TT 5 B 7 7.0 7 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 12.71 B 5.0 TT 5 B 7 7.0 7 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 15.59 B 5.6 TT 5 B 7 12.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 21.56 B 6.4 TT 5 B 7 9.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 22.65 B 6.5 TT 5 B 7 9.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 07 23.60 B 6.7 TT 5 B 7 8.0 5 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 08 08.52 S 8.9 TJ 20 L 7 45 4.0 3 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 08 12.61 S 9.3 TJ 20 L 7 45 4.0 3 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 09 09.52 [12.0 HS 20 L 7 45 ICQ nn MAT
2001A2 2001 09 14.44 [12.5 HS 30 L 6 60 ICQ nn MAT