The first comet to be discovered by a Chinese amateur astronomer was reported Friday, a scientist at the Zijinshan Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said Saturday.
The observer, Zhang Daqing, discovered the comet close to Cetusat 19:15 Friday in the northern suburbs of Kaifeng City, central Henan Province, said Wang Sichao, a researcher of the Observatory based in Nanjing, capital city of Jiangsu Province, east China.
Zhang soon reported his discovery to scientists at the Observatory, who in turn, reported it to the Lesser Planets Centerof the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the only internationally recognized authority for naming celestial bodies.
Kaoru Ikeya, a Japanese observer, had spotted the same comet about one and a half hours before Zhang, according to the IAU.
The IAU rules that independent observers who spot the same comet within two hours are all recognized as its discoverer, according to Wang.
He said the IAU has released an official report to recognize Zhang Daqing and Kaoru Ikeya as the discoverers of the comet, temporarily coded as 2002C1.
The comet will be named after the discoverers when further observations rule out the possibility that it might be a missing periodic comet, said Wang. "Such a possibility, however, is very slight," he said.