Books by Philip S. Harrington

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Astronomy For All Ages

The Deep Sky: An Introduction


The Illustrated Timeline of the Universe

The Space Shuttle

Star Ware, 4th edition

Star Watch

Touring the Universe Through Binoculars


Touring the Universe Through Binoculars

Chapter 4.  

Minor Members of the Solar System
Topics covered Chapter updates Recommended reading



Topics covered

  • Tracking asteroids

  • Viewing comets

  • What to do if you discover a new comet

  • Viewing telescopic meteor showers


Chapter 4 updates

As mentioned in the chapter, if you suspect that you have found a new comet, carefully check its location on a detailed star atlas to make sure that you have not accidentally "discovered" a long-known deep-sky object.  If, after you have ruled out all possible deep-sky objects, file a report with the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams.  Standard protocols in the book advise sending all pertinent information via telegram.  Although that method is still acceptable, it is now recommended that suspected discoveries be reported by sending an e-mail to  In the e-mail, be sure to include the following information:

  • Your name

  • Your address and contact details (preferably e-mail address, otherwise telephone/fax number)

  • Date and UT time of observation

  • Observation method (e.g., naked eye, visual binocular or telescopic observation, photographic, or telescopic CCD)

  • Specific details on instrumentation (aperture size, f/-ratio, etc.) and exposures (type of film or CCD, length of exposure, etc.)

  • Observation site (name of location, giving either city/town and state/province/country, or some other geographical name nearby); longitude and latitude and elevation above sea level can be useful

  • If you are a new contributor, provide some background information regarding your observing experience. It is recommended that observations be made of a suspected object more than once -- separated by at least an hour and preferably a day.


Recommended reading



  • Observer's Handbook (annual publication of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada); Univ of Toronto Press

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