52P/Harrington–Abell is a periodic comet in the Solar System.

Comet 52P Harrington-Abell 2MASS.jpg
52P/Harrington–Abell in 1998
Discovered byRobert G. Harrington
George O. Abell
Discovery dateMarch 22, 1955
1954 XIII; 1962 II; 1969 III;
1976 VIII; 1983 XVII; 1991 X
Orbital characteristics A
EpochMarch 6, 2006
Aphelion5.932 AU
Perihelion1.757 AU
Semi-major axis3.844 AU
Orbital period7.538 a
Last perihelionMarch 7, 2014[1]
August 14, 2006
Next perihelion2021-Oct-05[2]

It was discovered by Robert G. Harrington and George O. Abell in 1955 on plates from the Palomar Sky Survey taken with the 49-inch Samuel Oschin telescope.[3]

It has been seen on every apparition since then. With a period of about seven years, it has been seen close to its perihelia in 1954, 1962, 1969, 1976, 1983, 1991, and 2006.[3] Its orbital period changed from 7.2 to 7.6 years when it passed 0.04 AU from Jupiter in April, 1974.[4] It typically gets no brighter than about magnitude 17.[3][5]

In 1998/1999, it was unexpectedly bright. When recovered on July 21, 1998, by Alain Maury, he expected it to be about magnitude 21 or 22. Instead, he found it to be thousands of times brighter at magnitude 12.2. The next night, its brightness was estimated by others at magnitude 10.9 to 11.8. It may have had a second outburst about 80 days before perihelion. It finally faded to dimmer than magnitude 12 by the end of March, 1999.[3][5]

At its return in 2006, it returned to normal brightness.[6]


  1. ^ Syuichi Nakano (2011-10-30). "52P/Harrington-Abell (NK 2137)". OAA Computing and Minor Planet Sections. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
  2. ^ "52P/Harrington-Abell Orbit". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
  3. ^ a b c d Kazuo Kinoshita. "Cometography: 52P/Harrington-Abell". Gary W. Kronk. Archived from the original on 17 May 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  4. ^ Kronk, Gary W.; Meyer, Maik (2010). Cometography: Volume 5, 1960-1982: A Catalog of Comets. Cambridge University Press. p. 471. ISBN 978-0-521-87226-3.
  5. ^ a b "BAA Comet Section : Periodic Comets". British Astronomical Association. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  6. ^ Seiichi Yoshida. "52P/Harrington-Abell (2006)". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2011.

External linksEdit

Numbered comets
52P/Harrington–Abell Next
53P/Van Biesbroeck