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

C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) reaches its brightest

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) is forecast to reach its brightest. It will lie at a distance of 1.62 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 1.67 AU from the Earth.

From Fairfield the 2020 apparition of C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) 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.
04 May 2020 – C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) at perihelion
14 May 2020 – C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) reaches its brightest
23 Apr 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 20:54, 43° above N horizon
25 Apr 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 20:58, 43° above N horizon
27 Apr 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 20:57, 44° above N horizon
29 Apr 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 21:01, 45° above N horizon
01 May 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 21:05, 45° above N horizon
03 May 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 21:08, 46° above N horizon
05 May 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 21:12, 47° above N horizon
07 May 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 21:12, 48° above N horizon
09 May 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 21:16, 48° above N horizon
11 May 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 21:19, 49° above N horizon
13 May 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 21:19, 50° above N horizon
15 May 2020CamelopardalisVisible from Visible all night
Highest at 21:23, 51° above N horizon
17 May 2020DracoVisible from 21:27 until 04:15
Highest at 21:27, 52° above N horizon
19 May 2020Ursa MajorVisible from 21:27 until 04:11
Highest at 21:27, 53° above N horizon
21 May 2020Ursa MajorVisible from 21:31 until 04:07
Highest at 21:31, 54° above N horizon
23 May 2020Ursa MajorVisible from 21:35 until 04:07
Highest at 21:35, 54° above NW horizon
25 May 2020Ursa MajorVisible from 21:35 until 04:03
Highest at 21:35, 55° above NW horizon
27 May 2020Ursa MajorVisible from 21:39 until 04:03
Highest at 21:39, 56° above NW horizon
29 May 2020Ursa MajorVisible from 21:39 until 03:59
Highest at 21:39, 57° above NW horizon
31 May 2020Ursa MajorVisible from 21:44 until 04:00
Highest at 21:44, 58° above NW horizon
02 Jun 2020Ursa MajorVisible from 21:44 until 04:00
Highest at 21:44, 58° above NW horizon

A more detailed table of C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) is available here.

On 14 May it will be very well placed – it will be close enough to the north celestial pole that it will be high above the horizon all night.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) 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 14 May 2020. 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 14 May 2020 will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet C/2017 T2 (PANSTARRS) 08h48m30s +74°40' Camelopardalis 8.8

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 14 May 2020
Sunrise
05:35
Sunset
20:03
Twilight ends
21:59
Twilight begins
03:39

21-day old moon
Waning Crescent

49%

21 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:03 13:31 20:59
Venus 06:54 14:46 22:37
Moon 02:06 07:07 12:15
Mars 02:19 07:35 12:51
Jupiter 00:37 05:22 10:07
Saturn 00:52 05:41 10:31
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 20 Apr 2021.

Image credit

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

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Fairfield

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41.14°N
73.26°W
EDT

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