Astronomer S J Bus (California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA) discovered this comet during a routine survey for minor planets. It was discovered on a plate exposed with the 122 cm UK Schmidt telescope on 2nd March, 1981. The confirmation plate was obtained on 3rd March by K S Russell (Siding Spring Observatory, New South Wales, Australia).
Observations about comet 87P/ Bus include:
- On its discovery, this comet appeared centrally condensed.
- It had a faint tail extending about 20 inches towards north–west.
- Comet Bus was observed having a low albedo, which made it appear faint.
- It showed characteristics of Encke–type of comets namely low albedo, short orbit.etc.
- The comet displayed a condensed head and a tail that extended toward north–west for nearly 20 arc seconds.
On its discovery in March 1981, the image of the comet 87P/ Bus revealed a magnitude of about 17.5. Prior to its discovery images of 9th and 13th February, 1981, it revealed a magnitude of 19.5–20 and 20 respectively.
The perihelion distance (nearest to the sun) of comet 87P/ Bus was calculated at 2.1 AU while its aphelion distance (far from the sun) was about 4.7 AU.
The orbital period of comet 87P/ Bus was noted at around 6.5 years.
The perihelion date of comet 87P/Bus was on 7th July, 2007 and 13th December, 2013. It is expected to pass perihelion or reappear around July 2020.