Objects in your sky: Comets

by Dominic Ford

38P/Stephan-Oterma

2018 Nov 11 perihelion[chart]

41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak

2017 Apr 11 perihelion[chart]

55P/Tempel-Tuttle

1998 Jan 27 perihelion[chart]

118P/Shoemaker-Levy

2022 Nov 18 perihelion[chart]

210P/Christensen

2025 Nov 24 perihelion[chart]

262P/McNaught-Russell

1994 Nov 20 perihelion[chart]

C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp)

1997 Mar 30 perihelion[chart]

C/2009 G1 (STEREO)

2009 Apr 15 perihelion[chart]

C/2013 US10 (Catalina)

2015 Nov 16 perihelion[chart]

C/2013 X1 (PANSTARRS)

2016 Apr 19 perihelion[chart]

C/2014 S2 (PANSTARRS)

2015 Dec 08 perihelion[chart]

C/2015 ER61 (PANSTARRS)

2017 May 10 perihelion[chart]

C/2015 V2 (Johnson)

2017 Jun 11 perihelion[chart]

C/2015 WZ (PANSTARRS)

2016 Apr 13 perihelion[chart]

C/2016 M1 (PANSTARRS)

2018 Aug 10 perihelion[chart]

C/2016 R2 (PANSTARRS)

2018 May 08 perihelion[chart]

C/2016 U1 (NEOWISE)

2017 Jan 13 perihelion[chart]

C/2016 VZ18 (PANSTARRS)

2017 Mar 05 perihelion[chart]

C/2017 E1 (Borisov)

2017 Apr 10 perihelion[chart]

C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy)

2017 Apr 23 perihelion[chart]

C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS)

2022 Dec 19 perihelion[chart]

C/2017 O1 (ASASSN)

2017 Oct 14 perihelion[chart]

C/2017 S3 (PANSTARRS)

2018 Aug 16 perihelion[chart]

C/2017 T1 (Heinze)

2018 Feb 20 perihelion[chart]

C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS)

2020 May 04 perihelion[chart]

C/2017 T3 (ATLAS)

2018 Jul 18 perihelion[chart]

C/2018 EF9 (Lemmon)

2018 May 22 perihelion[chart]

C/2018 L2 (ATLAS)

2018 Dec 03 perihelion[chart]

C/2018 N1 (NEOWISE)

2018 Aug 01 perihelion[chart]

C/2018 N2 (ASASSN)

2019 Nov 10 perihelion[chart]

C/2018 R3 (Lemmon)

2019 Jun 07 perihelion[chart]

C/2018 V1 (Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto)

2018 Dec 03 perihelion[chart]

C/2018 W1 (Catalina)

2019 May 11 perihelion[chart]

C/2018 W2 (Africano)

2019 Sep 05 perihelion[chart]

C/2018 Y1 (Iwamoto)

2019 Feb 07 perihelion[chart]

C/2019 N1 (ATLAS)

2020 Dec 01 perihelion[chart]

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

2020 Jul 03 perihelion[chart]

C/2020 K8 (Catalina-ATLAS)

2020 Sep 14 perihelion[chart]

C/2020 M3 (ATLAS)

2020 Oct 26 perihelion[chart]

C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE)

2020 Oct 20 perihelion[chart]

C/2020 Q1 (Borisov)

2020 Aug 13 perihelion[chart]

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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Ashburn

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39.04°N
77.49°W
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