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

C/2018 W2 (Africano) at perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2018 W2 (Africano) will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.46 AU.

From Fairfield the 2019 apparition of C/2018 W2 (Africano) will progress as follows:

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.
05 Sep 2019 – C/2018 W2 (Africano) at perihelion
26 Sep 2019 – C/2018 W2 (Africano) reaches its brightest
27 Sep 2019 – C/2018 W2 (Africano) at perigee
15 Aug 2019CamelopardalisVisible from 23:33 until 04:52
Highest at 04:52, 60° above NE horizon
17 Aug 2019CamelopardalisVisible from 23:23 until 04:54
Highest at 04:54, 62° above NE horizon
19 Aug 2019CamelopardalisVisible from 23:12 until 04:57
Highest at 04:57, 64° above NE horizon
21 Aug 2019CamelopardalisVisible from 23:00 until 04:59
Highest at 04:59, 66° above NE horizon
23 Aug 2019CamelopardalisVisible from 22:49 until 05:02
Highest at 05:02, 68° above NE horizon
25 Aug 2019CamelopardalisVisible from 22:36 until 05:04
Highest at 05:04, 70° above NE horizon
27 Aug 2019CamelopardalisVisible from 22:24 until 05:07
Highest at 05:07, 72° above NE horizon
29 Aug 2019CamelopardalisVisible from 22:11 until 05:09
Highest at 05:09, 74° above N horizon
31 Aug 2019PerseusVisible from 21:58 until 05:11
Highest at 05:11, 76° above N horizon
02 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:45 until 05:14
Highest at 05:14, 77° above N horizon
04 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:31 until 05:16
Highest at 04:54, 78° above N horizon
06 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:17 until 05:18
Highest at 04:34, 79° above N horizon
08 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 21:03 until 05:21
Highest at 04:13, 80° above N horizon
10 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:50 until 05:23
Highest at 03:51, 82° above N horizon
12 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:37 until 05:25
Highest at 03:27, 84° above N horizon
14 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:24 until 05:27
Highest at 03:03, 87° above N horizon
16 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:12 until 05:30
Highest at 02:38, 90° above SE horizon
18 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:04 until 05:32
Highest at 02:13, 86° above S horizon
20 Sep 2019PiscesVisible from 20:01 until 05:34
Highest at 01:48, 81° above S horizon
22 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 19:57 until 05:36
Highest at 01:23, 76° above S horizon
24 Sep 2019PiscesVisible from 19:53 until 05:38
Highest at 00:58, 70° above S horizon

A more detailed table of C/2018 W2 (Africano)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2018 W2 (Africano) is available here.

At the moment of perihelion it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible around 21:25, when it reaches an altitude of 21° above your north-eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 04:48, 78° above your northern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight around 05:15, 77° above your northern horizon.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2018 W2 (Africano) 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.

Based on the magnitude parameters published for this comet by the BAA Comet Section, we estimate that it may be around mag 10 at perihelion. This estimate is based on observations that the BAA has received from amateur astronomers, assuming that its current level of activity will remain constant.

You will probably require a telescope to see this comet. It is unlikely to be visible through bird-watching binoculars, and even less likely to be visible to the unaided eye.

The comet's position at perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet C/2018 W2 (Africano) 02h50m30s +53°04' Perseus 9.9

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 05 September 2019
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

6-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


6 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:29 13:00 19:30
Venus 06:53 13:16 19:40
Moon 13:38 18:32 23:26
Mars 06:17 12:49 19:21
Jupiter 14:11 18:51 23:30
Saturn 16:15 20:54 01:37
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 06 Dec 2020.

Image credit

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






Color scheme