Objects in your sky: Comets

by Dominic Ford

Below is a list of the brightest few comets that are visible at present.

You are welcome to reproduce the text below for non-profit purposes, providing you credit In-The-Sky.org.

Comet name Mag Constellation Separation
from Sun
Trend Absolute magnitude
last updated
Comet name Mag Constellation Separation
from Sun
Trend Absolute magnitude
last updated
C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS)9.7Ophiuchus130°
Brightening
1 May 2022
22P/Kopff10.7Pisces65°
Fading
(peak at mag 10.3 on 1 Apr 2022)
1 Apr 2018
C/2021 E3 (ZTF)10.7Indus104°
Brightening
(peak at mag 10.5 on 2 Jun 2022)
1 May 2022
45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova10.8Taurus25°
Fading
(peak at mag 8.8 on 28 Apr 2022)
4 Dec 2018
C/2019 L3 (ATLAS)11.0Canis Minor50°
Fading
1 May 2022
C/2021 O3 (PANSTARRS)11.6Camelopardalis60°
Fading
(peak at mag 8.0 on 24 Apr 2022)
2 Apr 2022
9P/Tempel11.6Aquarius91°
Fading
4 Dec 2018
C/2021 P4 (ATLAS)11.7Camelopardalis40°
Brightening
(peak at mag 9.2 on 29 Jul 2022)
1 May 2022
116P/Wild11.9Leo86°
Fading
4 Dec 2018
19P/Borrelly12.0Lynx50°
Fading
1 Apr 2018
C/2019 T4 (ATLAS)12.1Crater118°
Fading
(peak at mag 12.0 on 9 Apr 2022)
1 May 2022
C/2021 F1 (Lemmon-PANSTARRS)12.2Cetus27°
Fading
(peak at mag 8.7 on 4 Apr 2022)
2 Apr 2022
117P/Helin-Roman-Alu13.0Sagittarius135°
Brightening
(peak at mag 12.8 on 1 Jul 2022)
16 Oct 2014
C/2020 V213.6Ursa Major73°
Brightening
1 May 2022
67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko13.7Leo81°
Fading
1 Apr 2018
110P/Hartley13.7Cancer71°
Fading
29 Feb 2012
8P/Tuttle13.8Ara143°
Fading
3 Jan 2022
C/2021 A1 (Leonard)13.9Corona Australis137°
Fading
4 Feb 2022
104P/Kowal13.9Leo78°
Fading
4 Dec 2018
73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann14.0Leo80°
Brightening
(peak at mag 11.0 on 4 Sep 2022)
4 Apr 2017
C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS)14.0Bootes114°
Brightening
1 May 2022
81P/Wild14.1Taurus18°
Brightening
(peak at mag 10.4 on 14 Jan 2023)
4 Dec 2018
C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS)14.3Hercules122°
Brightening
1 May 2022
4P/Faye14.7Cancer60°
Fading
14 Sep 2017
52P/Harrington-Abell14.8Virgo122°
Fading
Unknown

The position of each comet is calculated from orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC).

The brightnesses of comets are estimated from magnitude parameters published by the BAA Comet Section, where these are available. These are computed from the observations they receive from amateur astronomers.

Comets are intrinsically highly unpredictable objects, since their brightness depends on the scattering of sunlight from dust particles in the comet's coma and tail. This dust is continually streaming away from the comet's nucleus, and its density at any particular time is governed by the rate of sublimation of the ice in the comet's nucleus, as it is heated by the Sun's rays. It also depends on the amount of dust that is mixed in with that ice. This is very difficult to predict in advance, and can be highly variable even between successive apparitions of the same comet.

In consequence, while the future positions of comets are usually known with a high degree of confidence, their future brightnesses are not. For most comets, we do not publish any magnitude estimates at all. For the few comets where we do make estimates, we generally prefer the BAA's magnitude parameters to those published by the Minor Planet Center, since they are typically updated more often.

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77.49°W
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