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

260P/McNaught at perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet 260P/McNaught will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.42 AU.

From Ashburn the 2019 apparition of 260P/McNaught 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.
11 Sep 2019 – 260P/McNaught at perihelion
21 Aug 2019AriesVisible from 00:19 until 05:22
Highest at 05:14, 66° above S horizon
23 Aug 2019AriesVisible from 00:11 until 05:24
Highest at 05:09, 67° above S horizon
25 Aug 2019AriesVisible from 23:59 until 05:26
Highest at 05:05, 68° above S horizon
27 Aug 2019AriesVisible from 23:51 until 05:29
Highest at 05:00, 69° above S horizon
29 Aug 2019AriesVisible from 23:43 until 05:31
Highest at 04:56, 71° above S horizon
31 Aug 2019AriesVisible from 23:35 until 05:33
Highest at 04:51, 72° above S horizon
02 Sep 2019AriesVisible from 23:26 until 05:35
Highest at 04:46, 73° above S horizon
04 Sep 2019AriesVisible from 23:17 until 05:37
Highest at 04:42, 74° above S horizon
06 Sep 2019AriesVisible from 23:09 until 05:39
Highest at 04:37, 76° above S horizon
08 Sep 2019AriesVisible from 23:00 until 05:41
Highest at 04:31, 77° above S horizon
10 Sep 2019AriesVisible from 22:51 until 05:43
Highest at 04:26, 78° above S horizon
12 Sep 2019AriesVisible from 22:42 until 05:45
Highest at 04:21, 79° above S horizon
14 Sep 2019AriesVisible from 22:32 until 05:47
Highest at 04:15, 81° above S horizon
16 Sep 2019AriesVisible from 22:23 until 05:49
Highest at 04:10, 82° above S horizon
18 Sep 2019TriangulumVisible from 22:14 until 05:51
Highest at 04:04, 83° above S horizon
20 Sep 2019TriangulumVisible from 22:04 until 05:53
Highest at 03:58, 84° above S horizon
22 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:54 until 05:55
Highest at 03:52, 86° above S horizon
24 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:44 until 05:57
Highest at 03:45, 87° above S horizon
26 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:34 until 05:59
Highest at 03:39, 88° above S horizon
28 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:23 until 06:01
Highest at 03:32, 89° above SE horizon
30 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:13 until 06:03
Highest at 03:25, 90° above W horizon

A more detailed table of 260P/McNaught's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 260P/McNaught is available here.

At the moment of perihelion it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible around 22:47, when it reaches an altitude of 21° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 04:23, 78° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight around 05:42, 70° above your south-western horizon.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 260P/McNaught 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 12 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 260P/McNaught 02h32m30s +27°36' Aries 11.7

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 11 September 2019
Sunrise
06:47
Sunset
19:26
Twilight ends
20:57
Twilight begins
05:16

12-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous

94%

12 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:20 13:33 19:46
Venus 07:25 13:37 19:49
Moon 18:38 23:47 04:01
Mars 06:31 12:57 19:22
Jupiter 14:01 18:46 23:31
Saturn 16:02 20:47 01:36
All times shown in EDT.

Source

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 16 Oct 2020.

Image credit

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

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77.49°W
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