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

2P/Encke at perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Comets feed

Objects: 2P/Encke
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Comet 2P/Encke will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 0.33 AU.

From Ashburn the 2020 apparition of 2P/Encke 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.
25 Jun 2020 – 2P/Encke at perihelion
30 Jul 2020 – 2P/Encke at perigee
04 Jun 2020TaurusNot observable
06 Jun 2020TaurusNot observable
08 Jun 2020TaurusNot observable
10 Jun 2020TaurusNot observable
12 Jun 2020TaurusNot observable
14 Jun 2020TaurusNot observable
16 Jun 2020TaurusNot observable
18 Jun 2020GeminiNot observable
20 Jun 2020GeminiNot observable
22 Jun 2020GeminiNot observable
24 Jun 2020GeminiNot observable
26 Jun 2020GeminiNot observable
28 Jun 2020GeminiNot observable
30 Jun 2020CancerNot observable
02 Jul 2020CancerNot observable
04 Jul 2020CancerNot observable
06 Jul 2020CancerNot observable
08 Jul 2020CancerNot observable
10 Jul 2020CancerNot observable
12 Jul 2020LeoNot observable
14 Jul 2020HydraNot observable

A more detailed table of 2P/Encke's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 2P/Encke is available here.

At the moment of perihelion it will not be readily observable since it will be very close to the Sun, at a separation of only 14° from it.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 2P/Encke 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 6 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.

The comet's position at perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet 2P/Encke 07h20m20s 21°56'N Gemini 6.0

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 25 June 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

4-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


4 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:36 13:46 20:56
Venus 04:07 11:10 18:13
Moon 10:06 17:19 00:17
Mars 01:00 06:52 12:44
Jupiter 21:53 02:42 07:31
Saturn 22:13 03:06 08:00
All times shown in EDT.


Never attempt to point a pair of binoculars or a telescope at an object close to the Sun. Doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness.


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 15 Mar 2021.

Image credit

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






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