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

C/2018 W2 (Africano) reaches its brightest

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2018 W2 (Africano) is forecast to reach its brightest. It will lie at a distance of 1.49 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 0.50 AU from the Earth.

From Ashburn 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
05 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:55 until 05:38
Highest at 05:01, 76° above N horizon
07 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:40 until 05:40
Highest at 04:41, 78° above N horizon
09 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 21:25 until 05:42
Highest at 04:19, 79° above N horizon
11 Sep 2019PerseusVisible from 21:11 until 05:44
Highest at 03:56, 81° above N horizon
13 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:57 until 05:46
Highest at 03:32, 83° above N horizon
15 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:43 until 05:48
Highest at 03:08, 86° above N horizon
17 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:30 until 05:50
Highest at 02:43, 90° above E horizon
19 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:19 until 05:52
Highest at 02:17, 86° above S horizon
21 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:13 until 05:54
Highest at 01:52, 81° above S horizon
23 Sep 2019AndromedaVisible from 20:10 until 05:56
Highest at 01:27, 76° above S horizon
25 Sep 2019PegasusVisible from 20:07 until 05:58
Highest at 01:03, 70° above S horizon
27 Sep 2019PegasusVisible from 20:03 until 05:26
Highest at 00:39, 63° above S horizon
29 Sep 2019PiscesVisible from 20:00 until 04:43
Highest at 00:16, 57° above S horizon
01 Oct 2019PiscesVisible from 19:57 until 04:00
Highest at 23:51, 51° above S horizon
03 Oct 2019AquariusVisible from 19:54 until 03:18
Highest at 23:30, 46° above S horizon
05 Oct 2019AquariusVisible from 19:51 until 02:36
Highest at 23:10, 41° above S horizon
07 Oct 2019AquariusVisible from 19:53 until 01:55
Highest at 22:52, 36° above S horizon
09 Oct 2019AquariusVisible from 20:00 until 01:14
Highest at 22:35, 32° above S horizon
11 Oct 2019AquariusVisible from 20:09 until 00:32
Highest at 22:18, 29° above S horizon
13 Oct 2019AquariusVisible from 20:21 until 23:44
Highest at 22:03, 26° above S horizon
15 Oct 2019Piscis AustrinusVisible from 20:42 until 22:55
Highest at 21:48, 24° 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.

On 26 September it will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible around 20:04 (EDT) as the dusk sky fades, 24° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 00:55, 68° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 05:56, when it sinks below 22° above your western 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 9 on 26 September 2019. This estimate is based on observations that the BAA has received from amateur astronomers, assuming that its current level of activity will remain constant.

This comet is not expected to be visible to the naked eye, but might be visible through bird-watching binoculars.

The comet's position on 26 September 2019 will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet C/2018 W2 (Africano) 00h02m50s +17°08' Pegasus 8.9

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 26 September 2019
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

27-day old moon
Waning Crescent


27 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 08:27 14:03 19:39
Venus 07:59 13:46 19:33
Moon 04:23 11:14 18:04
Mars 06:20 12:33 18:45
Jupiter 13:10 17:54 22:39
Saturn 15:03 19:48 00:37
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 16 Oct 2020.

Image credit

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






Color scheme