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Comet 8P/Tuttle
Discovered byHorace Parnell Tuttle
Discovery dateJanuary 5, 1858
1790 II; 1858 I; 1871 III;
1885 IV; 1899 III; 1912 IV;
1926 IV; 1939 X; 1967 V;
1980 XIII; 1994 XV
Orbital characteristics
Aphelion10.39 AU
Perihelion1.026 AU
Semi-major axis5.707 AU
Orbital period13.6 yr
13y 7m 22d (perihelion to perihelion)
Last perihelionAugust 27, 2021[1][2]
January 27, 2008
Next perihelion2035-Apr-18[3]
Earth MOID0.095 AU (14.2 million km)[4]
Physical characteristics
Dimensions4.5 km contact binary[4]

8P/Tuttle (also known as Tuttle's Comet or Comet Tuttle) is a periodic comet with a 13.6-year orbit. It fits the classical definition of a Jupiter-family comet with an orbital period of less than 20 years, but does not fit the modern definition of (2 < TJupiter< 3).[4] Its last perihelion passage was 27 August 2021 when it had a solar elongation of 26 degrees at approximately apparent magnitude 9.[5] Two weeks later, on September 12, 2021, it was about 1.8 AU (270 million km) from Earth which is about as far from Earth as the comet can get when the comet is near perihelion.

Comet 8P/Tuttle is responsible for the Ursid meteor shower in late December.[6]

2008 perihelion[edit]

Under dark skies, the comet was a naked-eye object. Perihelion was late January 2008 and, as of February, was visible telescopically to Southern Hemisphere observers in the constellation Eridanus. On December 30, 2007, it was in close conjunction with spiral galaxy M33. On January 1, 2008, it passed Earth at a distance of 0.25282 AU (37,821,000 km; 23,501,000 mi).[4]

Predictions that the 2007 Ursid meteor shower could have possibly been stronger than usual due to the return of the comet,[7] did not appear to materialize, as counts were in the range of normal distribution.

Contact binary[edit]

Radar observations of Comet Tuttle in January 2008 by the Arecibo Observatory show it to be a contact binary.[8][9] The comet nucleus is estimated at 4.5 km in diameter, using the equivalent diameter of a sphere having a volume equal to the sum of a 3 km and 4 km sphere.[4]

Additional images[edit]

Animation of 8P/Tuttle from 2005 to 2025
  Sun ·   Venus ·   Earth ·   Mars ·   Jupiter ·   Saturn ·   8P/Tuttle


  1. ^ a b "8P/Tuttle Orbit". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  2. ^ Kinoshita, Kazuo (January 24, 2008). "8P/Tuttle". Comet Orbits.
  3. ^ "Horizons Batch for 8P/Tuttle (90000179) on 2035-Apr-18" (Perihelion occurs when rdot flips from negative to positive). JPL Horizons. Retrieved September 12, 2021. (JPL K215/14 Soln.date: 2021-Sep-07)
  4. ^ a b c d e "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 8P/Tuttle". NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. June 6, 2008. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  5. ^ Seiichi Yoshida (June 28, 2020). "8P/Tuttle". Seiichi Yoshida's Comet Catalog. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  6. ^ "Meteor Streams". NASA.gov. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  7. ^ Jenniskens, P.; Lyytinen, E.; Nissinen, M.; Yrjölä, I.; Vaubaillon, J. (December 2007). "Strong Ursid shower predicted for 2007 December 22" (PDF). WGN, Journal of the International Meteor Organization. 35 (6): 125–133. Bibcode:2007JIMO...35..125J.
  8. ^ Schilling, Govert (October 14, 2008). "Comet Tuttle's Split Personality". Science. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  9. ^ Harmon, J. K.; Nolan, M. C.; Howell, E. S.; Giorgini, J. D. (2008). Comet 8P/Tuttle: Arecibo Radar Observations of the First Bilobate Comet (PDF). 10th Asteroids, Comets, Meteors. 13–18 July 2008. Baltimore, Maryland. Lunar and Planetary Institute.

External links[edit]

Numbered comets
8P/Tuttle Next