"Observations from the amateurs ... have proved very useful," says Tony Farnham, a University of Maryland astronomer.
The key is telescope time.
Precious commodityDr. Farnham
has been observing the comet once a month since January from the Kitt Peak Observatory near Tucson, Ariz.That's generous for professionals, who must vie for hours at major observatories.But "ideally, we would like to get images more frequently" in order to track changes in the comet's output of dust and gas, any sudden emergence of jets of gas, or changes in the form and structure of the comet's features, he
The data amateurs provide help fill those gaps.And they aid in planning his
next mountaintop observing run.The images are not as detailed as those from the telescope he