C/1998 J1 SOHO
The Great Binocular Comet of 1998
Closest to Sun on 8 May 1998 at 0.15AU
Closest to Earth on 20 May 1998 at 0.84AU
Maximum magnitude 0 in May 1998.
This comet is not expected to return.
Comet SOHO was discovered by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory on May 3,
when only 8 degrees from the Sun.
Luckily it appeared on the edge of the SOHO field of view, otherwise it may have been missed at its best.
After perihelion, the comet was well placed for Southern Hemisphere observers.
I had my first view on the evening of May 16. Comet SOHO shone at magnitude 3.2 in twilight.
By May 18 the comet had faded slightly to magnitude 3.5,
but displayed a brilliant blue ion tail through binoculars over 5 degrees in length, stretching towards Gamma Orionis.
1998 May 18.
On May 21, through a 20cm telescope, the comet displayed a brilliant blue-green
coma 5' wide and 2 tails.
A 4 degree gas tail in PA 125 and 1.5 degree dust tail in PA 120.
1998 May 27.
By May 27th, SOHO had faded to magnitude 5.4 but still displayed a 1/2 degree tail.
On the evening of June 1st, a short lived outburst occurred and I estimated
the brightness at magnitude 3.4
but by June 6th, it had faded to magnitude 5.5.
My last observation occurred on Aug 12th,1998 when I estimated it at magnitude 12.5.