Easily the brightest comet of 2002, and argueably the best comet since C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) graced our skies in 1997 was discovered on February 1, 2002, by veteran comet hunter Kaoru Ikeya in Japan, and Daqing Zhang in China. An independent discovery was reported from Paulo M. Raymundo in Brazil. The comet was found to have an orbital period of roughly three and a half centuries, and it is believed to be identical with comet C/1661 C1, described by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius.
This composite image of 153P/2002 C1 (Ikeya-Zhang), consisting of four overlapping frames, was made on May 16, 2002, by Felix Hormuth with a Apogee AP7 CCD at the 0.45m f/4.4 Newtonian reflector of the Starkenburg Observatory, Germany. Each of the four frames is in itself a composite of five 60 second exposures which were stacked with Astrometrica to compensate for the comets motion of 4.4"/minute. Slightly less than 1° of the comet's narow ion tail is captured in this view. (Click on the image to see the full resolution image.)