Russian wins award for comet discovery

June 8, 2012 at 5:55 PM
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MOSCOW, June 8 (UPI) -- An amateur astronomer has become the first Russian to receive a prestigious international award for his discovery of a new comet using amateur equipment.

Leonid Elenin has received the Edgar Wilson Award for his discovery of comet C/2010 X1 on Dec. 10, 2010.

"It is the most coveted award for amateurs who search for new objects in the solar system because to discover a new comet is a dream for any of them, even for those who deny it," Elenin told RIA Novosti Thursday.

The Elenin comet was hit in August 2010 by a coronal mass ejection while approaching the sun and began disintegrating, with its debris passing Earth at about 22 million miles.

As of mid-October 2011 it was no longer visible even using large ground-based telescopes.

Established in 1998 in memory of American businessman Edgar Wilson, the award is given to amateurs (or professional astronomers acting in an amateur capacity) who find one or more new comets using amateur, privately owned equipment.

Elenin will share this year's prize, which includes a monetary award of about $20,000 and a plaque, with four other amateur astronomers who discovered two more comets while working in pairs.

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