An amateur astronomer using a backyard telescope discovered a new comet resembling a white cotton ball with a bright center.

"It is an exciting thing to help science and make such a contribution," said Howard Brewington, an electronics technician and comet hunter.Brewington, peering through a telescope with a 16-inch mirror he ground by hand, spotted the comet Sunday night in the south sky in the area of the constellation Pisces.

He telephoned the International Astronomical Union in Cambridge, Mass., where all astronomical findings must be confirmed.

Bruce Marsden of the IAU said Alan Hale, a New Mexico State graduate student working at the Kitt Peak observatory near Tucson, Ariz., verified the discovery.