Simultaneous observations of the comet from NEAR and groundbased observers offers a potentially unique opportunity for expanded phase angle coverage that could be used to further constrain the composition and physical properties of the cometary materials (the phase angle of the comet from NEAR will be ~85 deg, while at the same time the comet's phase angle from Earth will be ~50 deg). In addition, quantitatively calibrated groundbased data (flux calibration relative to standard stars) could provide assistance with the calibration of the NEAR multispectral camera.
If it is possible for you to observe the comet at or near March 24 at 15:00 UT, we ask for your participation in this effort.
NEAR is a NASA Discovery-class spacecraft which was just launched on February 17 and is currently on a trajectory for an encouter and orbital rendezvous with the asteroid Eros in early 1999.
I would be glad to provide more details on NEAR or the planned cometary observations if you are interested.
NEAR Science Team member
Cornell University Department of Astronomy Center for Radiophysics and Space Research 424 Space Sciences Building Ithaca, NY 14853-6801 phone: 607-255-5911 fax: 607-255-9002 email: firstname.lastname@example.org WWW: http://marswatch.tn.cornell.edu
Comet 1996 B2 Hyakutake Home Page