Parker Solar Probe (WISPR) Comets [Updated]

Hi All,

As I have mentioned a few times, we have had a small number of comets observed and discovered in our Parker Solar Probe (PSP) / WISPR images. Until now, my records of these have not been kept up-to-date, but I have now fixed that, and am delighted to present the first set of official PSP confirmations!

PSP#  Report Date/Time   Discoverer(s)       Tel       Group    Images of...
0001  Sep25,22 02:32am   P.Berrett        WISPR-I      Kreutz   May29,22
0002  N/A                K.Battams        WISPR-I      Kreutz   Sep01-02,22
0003  N/A                K.Battams        WISPR-I      Kreutz   Sep02,22
0004  N/A                K.Battams        WISPR-I      Kreutz   Sep01,22
0005  Feb11,23 11:25pm   P.Berrett        WISPR-I      Kreutz   Nov18,21
0006  May13,23 04:54am   P.Berrett        WISPR-I/O    NonGrp   Dec11,22
0007* Jul12,23 10:03am   K.Battams        WISPR-I      Kreutz   Mar12,23
0008  Jul16,23 04:41pm   R.Biros       WISPR-I/C3/H1A  NonGrp   Dec06-07,22

It should be assumed that these comets were reported via email with the exception of PSP0007, which was reported to the SOHOHunter group (msg #5717).

Huge congratulations to Rafal for discovering his first PSP comet! I was surprised to look at the HI-1A images and see it very clearly in those, too. I'm shocked it was missed by everyone (unless I am missing a report somewhere?). I know it is easy to forget about the HI-1 images when the Kreutz are not in the field of view, but it is an extremely sensitive camera that sees a large part of the sky that SOHO does not... so it is always worthwhile glancing at that data every now and then. [UPDATE: it was also visible in LASCO C3! The text file further down this page has been updated to provide those positions.] 

There were several Kreutz seen on or around Aug 29 - Sep 03,2022, but the only known objects were:

  • SOHO-4518 (Aug29,22, e.g. 2022-08-29 04:00:28 x=198,y=326)
  • SOHO-4520 (Sep02-03,22, e.g. 2022-09-03 01:00:20 x=82, y=159)

Other "known" SOHO comets seen by PSP include (but not limited to):

  • SOHO-4312 (Nov16,21, e.g. 2021-11-16 04:48:15 x=90,y=261)
  • SOHO-4313 (Nov16,21, e.g. 2021-11-16 12:18:14 x=89, y=255)
  • SOHO-4314 (Nov17,21, e.g. 2021-11-17 08:18:14 x=58, y=254)
  • SOHO-4315 (Nov17,21, e.g. 2021-11-17 12:18:18 x=49, y=262)
  • SOHO-4316 (Nov17-18,21, e.g. 2021-11-18 07:03:18 x=92, y=136)

I am going to create a separate page on the Sungrazer website to list these discoveries. In the meantime, I will post these links to plain text files providing the date/time/x/y [(0,0) lower-left] of these discoveries: psp0001, psp0002, psp0003, psp0004, psp0005, psp0006, psp0007, psp0008

Finally, a reminder that PSP/WISPR images are released on the WISPR Website approximately every three months. I strongly recommend using the "L3" images (either png or FITS) for comet hunting, as they are fully pre-processed and require absolutely no preparation. That said, if you are handy with data processing, creating "running difference" images from the L3 data can be excellent for revealing the faintest comets. Note that the Kreutz stream is only in the WISPR field of view for the first few days of each encounter and quickly moves out of the lower-left corner as PSP approaches its perihelion. Likewise the Meyer orbit also moves out quite quickly. But there is still plenty of opportunity for non-group comets to be found, so I encourage everyone to look!

Here is an animated gif (or 2.2MB .mp4 file) showing Rafal's non-group discovery (click animation larger version), made with WISPR L3 images processed with the "running difference" technique:

Image showing a small comet

As always, email me with any questions, comments, corrections, etc.