Comet 2003 k4 LINEAR was discovered on May 28, 2003 as a 17th magnitude object in the constellation of Vulpecula. It remained in the Vulpecula-Cygnus region for the rest of the year and into early 2004, brightening steadily during that time. It finally peaked at around magnitude 6.5 as it swept past the Earth on its way to perihelion on October 2. Although the perihelion distance was only about 1.02 AU, the comet at this time was nearly 2 AU from the Earth, as so as a result, although the comet put on a nice display, it was never a superb object. During August, the comet rapidly moved southwards, becoming lost to northern observers by the end of the month.
Due to a combination of work, moving house, changing jobs, and weather, I only managed to observe the comet on 4 occassions before it was lost to the northern hemisphere. My first observation was on June 4, 2004. On this night, the comet appeared as a well condensed object of about magnitude 8.6, and had a short, faint tail. The coma in particular was a very strong greenish colour.
My next observation was on June 23. By now the comet had brightened to around magnitude 7.8 and the tail was becoming more noticeable.
I continued to make observations on clear nights until June 28. The comet brightened slightly in that time and the tail became both a little longer and brighter.
This is the same image as the previous image, however the individual images have been combined using a median fliter to remove the stars.
This is the same image as the previous image, however the individual images have been combined using a simple add routine which keeps the stars. To the upper left of the comet, one of the stars appears to be fuzzy. The reason is that this is the 14.4 magnitude galaxy, IC 1221. There was another 14th magnitude galaxy just to the south (below), however this was just out of the field of view. The images below is the same set of images, however these have been aligned on the stars rather than the comet. The first image has been combined using a median filter. This has reduced the brightness of the comet relative to the galaxy. The second image is a simple add, and shows more how the view appeared in a telescope.
After the middle of the year, the comet moved to the far southern skies, fading steadily as it receeded from the Sun. It will become visible again to northern observers during early 2005, by which time it is expected to have faded to about 9th magnitude. CCD imagers should be able to follow it into 2006.