Leading up to NASA/ESA SOHO's 16th launch anniversary - here is another interesting fact about SOHO!
It was finally official: SOHO comets could longer be designated with only three digits. On 5 August 2005, Toni Scarmato, a high school teacher from San Costantino di Briatico, Calabria, Italy, discovered SOHO's 999th and 1000th comet. Scarmato, an astrophysics graduate of Bologna University, said "I am very happy for this special experience that is possible thanks to the SOHO satellite and NASA-ESA collaboration. I want to dedicate the SOHO 1000th comet to my wife Rosy and my son Kevin to compensate for the time that I have taken from them to search for SOHO comets".
SOHO ran a contest to see who could guess the time of the comet's closest approach. The winner of the SOHO 1000th Comet Contest was Andrew Dolgopolov of Dublin, Ireland, who guessed the time of the comet's closest approach to the Sun (perihelion time) within 22 minutes. The runner-up was David Spangler of Havertown, Pennsylvania, USA, and third place went to Gary Toller of Columbia, MD, USA.
SOHO is very grateful to all the comet hunters, mostly amateur astronomers, who spent countless hours searching the data. the world-wide community of hundreds of amateur astronomers have made a huge contribution to science: The catalog of 2110 SOHO comets (and counting!) has tripled the number of comets with known orbital parameters, and forms a treasure trove of data for researchers investigating the nature of our solar system. There is no way this could have been done without you: Thank you!
Credit: SOHO European Space Agency / National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA