© Andy Roberts 1997. Pictured comet is C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp.

C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) at perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Comets feed

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Comet C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 0.49 AU.

From Fairfield the 2017 apparition of C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) will progress as follows:

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30 Mar 2017 – C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) at perigee
15 Apr 2017 – C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) reaches its brightest
23 Apr 2017 – C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) at perihelion
02 Apr 2017PegasusVisible from 05:12 until 05:26
Highest at 05:26, 24° above E horizon
04 Apr 2017PegasusVisible from 05:09 until 05:22
Highest at 05:22, 24° above E horizon
06 Apr 2017PegasusVisible from 05:08 until 05:18
Highest at 05:18, 24° above E horizon
08 Apr 2017PegasusVisible from 05:10 until 05:15
Highest at 05:15, 23° above E horizon
10 Apr 2017PegasusNot observable
12 Apr 2017AndromedaNot observable
14 Apr 2017AndromedaNot observable
16 Apr 2017AndromedaNot observable
18 Apr 2017AndromedaNot observable
20 Apr 2017AndromedaNot observable
22 Apr 2017AndromedaNot observable
24 Apr 2017AndromedaNot observable
26 Apr 2017AndromedaNot observable
28 Apr 2017TriangulumNot observable
30 Apr 2017TriangulumNot observable
02 May 2017TriangulumNot observable
04 May 2017TriangulumNot observable
06 May 2017TriangulumNot observable
08 May 2017AriesNot observable
10 May 2017AriesNot observable
12 May 2017AriesNot observable

A more detailed table of C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) is available here.

At the moment of perihelion it will not be observable – it will reach its highest point in the sky during daytime and will be no higher than 11° above the horizon at dawn.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) over the course of its apparition, as calculated from the orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC). It is available for download, either on dark background, in PNG, PDF or SVG formats, or on a light background, in PNG, PDF or SVG formats. It was produced using StarCharter.

Comet brightnesses

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.

No estimate for the brightness of comet C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) is currently available.

The comet's position at perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet C/2017 E4 (Lovejoy) 01h14m30s 36°46'N Andromeda 7.4

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 23 April 2017
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

26-day old moon
Waning Crescent


26 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:43 12:27 19:10
Venus 04:25 10:33 16:42
Moon 04:32 10:25 16:27
Mars 07:19 14:41 22:03
Jupiter 17:59 23:45 05:31
Saturn 23:54 04:35 09:15
All times shown in EDT.


This event was automatically generated on the basis of orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) , and is updated whenever new elements become available. It was last updated on 27 Dec 2021.

Image credit

© Andy Roberts 1997. Pictured comet is C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp.






Color scheme