Comet Brooks 2 was discovered by an eminent British astronomer, William Robert Brooks. This comet was discovered from the Smith Observatory at Geneva. On 7th July, 1889, Brooks discovered a comet near the constellation of Aquarius, which was motionless. Next morning, he observed that the comet moved northwards. As Brooks was the first to discover the comet, it was named after him.
Observations made about this comet include:
- This comet passed within 0.001 AU to Jupiter in 1886, which led to its discovery in July 1889.
- It was noted that the comet appeared faint, with a coma of 1 arc minute across and a tail 10 arc minutes long.
- On 1st August 1889, Edward Emerson Barnard, a well known comet hunter discovered 2 fragments of a comet and named them as B and C. Next day, he observed 4–5 more but they disappeared later. On 4th August, he observed 2 fragments and named them D and E. E disappeared but D remained for a week. Meanwhile, B grew larger and fainter but disappeared by September. C survived till mid–November of 1889. This apparition of comet Brooks 2 existed till 13th January, 1891.
- Tidal waves due to the gravity of Jupiter split the nucleus of comet Brooks 2 into several fragments. The brightness of the comet increased but it broke into parts B, C, D and E, apart from its main nucleus A.
The magnitude noted at the time of its discovery was 8. However, it reached a magnitude of about 10.5. Despite a shorter perihelion distance, comet Brooks 2 appears faded. Last observed magnitude was 19.7 on its apparition in 2014.
Perihelion distance of the comet is noted at about 1.466 AU on its last apparition on 8th June, 2014. Its aphelion distance is about 5.256 A.
The orbital period of the comet 16P/ Brooks 2 is about 6.16 years.
Periodical Comet 16P/ Brooks 2 was recovered by Schuster at the European Southern Observatory on June 12th, 1980 and this observation was confirmed 5 nights later by Shao and J.Bulger at the Agassiz station. Comet Brooks 2 was again recovered by a well known Japanese astronomer Tsutomu Seki in 1994.
Comet 16P/ Brooks 2 encountered the giant planet Jupiter in 1921, which decreased its perihelion distance from 1.96 AU to 1.86 AU. The earlier encounter with Jupiter in 1886 led to its discovery and further closeness led to its fragmentation. Also, two approaches near Jupiter were made in 1958 and 1969.
Comet 16P/ Brooks 2 is expected to reappear on 21st January, 2021.