"Discovering a comet requires a lot of luck and determination"
how did you end up discovering comet c/2012 c2 (Bruenjes)?
For decades I had wanted to discover my own comet, but it took a combination of finally having the time, money, real estate and equipment before it became reasonable to perform a systematic search.
I used a 0.35-metre (14-inch) f/2 telescope and camera with a wide field of view (three by two degrees), a modified mount to slew faster and a custom software application to search parts of the sky that were optimal for locating a comet but hadn't been checked by the professionals within the past month. Once the system had been assembled, I ran it as often as the clouds and Moon would allow.
Was it luck or determination (or both) that led to the discovery of this comet?
There was both luck and determination; as an engineer I computed coverages, probabilities and optimised my equipment and search strategy to give me the best chance of finding a comet.
It took years to assemble the gear. Once the search program began, it was only about 76 hours of telescope time before I found a small comet in outburst that no one else had noticed, even though it was quite close to the Earth.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have found a comet in that short of an amount of time; most amateur comet hunters wait many hundreds or even thousands of hours for a discovery.
What advice would you have for anyone trying to discover a comet or any other Neo?
With large-aperture professional surveys vacuuming up discoveries, you need to obtain the largest aperture telescope you can afford, the widest field of view and then look in the cracks between and around their normal search areas.
Their search strategies and observation logs are freely available on the internet and can be used to identify areas of the sky that are being missed in their regular surveys. The alternative is to check mainstream parts of the sky very frequently to try to beat the professionals to a discovery they would make anyway a few days later, but that doesn't feel like a worthwhile scientific contribution to me.
Named after its discoverer edmond halley, halley’s comet
was first observed in 1758
fred’s equipment was carefully assembled to discover a comet
comets are a joy to behold in the sky due to their impressive tails