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

C/2020 Q1 (Borisov) at perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2020 Q1 (Borisov) will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.31 AU.

From Fairfield the 2020 apparition of C/2020 Q1 (Borisov) 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.
13 Aug 2020 – C/2020 Q1 (Borisov) at perihelion
23 Jul 2020TaurusNot observable
25 Jul 2020TaurusNot observable
27 Jul 2020TaurusNot observable
29 Jul 2020TaurusNot observable
31 Jul 2020TaurusNot observable
02 Aug 2020TaurusVisible from 04:28 until 04:32
Highest at 04:32, 22° above E horizon
04 Aug 2020TaurusVisible from 04:16 until 04:36
Highest at 04:36, 25° above E horizon
06 Aug 2020TaurusVisible from 04:08 until 04:40
Highest at 04:40, 28° above E horizon
08 Aug 2020TaurusVisible from 03:56 until 04:39
Highest at 04:39, 30° above E horizon
10 Aug 2020TaurusVisible from 03:43 until 04:43
Highest at 04:43, 33° above E horizon
12 Aug 2020TaurusVisible from 03:30 until 04:47
Highest at 04:47, 36° above E horizon
14 Aug 2020TaurusVisible from 03:20 until 04:50
Highest at 04:50, 38° above E horizon
16 Aug 2020AurigaVisible from 03:06 until 04:50
Highest at 04:50, 41° above E horizon
18 Aug 2020AurigaVisible from 02:51 until 04:53
Highest at 04:53, 44° above E horizon
20 Aug 2020AurigaVisible from 02:38 until 04:56
Highest at 04:56, 47° above E horizon
22 Aug 2020AurigaVisible from 02:21 until 05:00
Highest at 05:00, 50° above E horizon
24 Aug 2020AurigaVisible from 02:07 until 05:03
Highest at 05:03, 54° above E horizon
26 Aug 2020AurigaVisible from 01:51 until 05:03
Highest at 05:03, 56° above E horizon
28 Aug 2020AurigaVisible from 01:34 until 05:06
Highest at 05:06, 59° above E horizon
30 Aug 2020AurigaVisible from 01:14 until 05:09
Highest at 05:09, 63° above E horizon
01 Sep 2020AurigaVisible from 00:52 until 05:12
Highest at 05:12, 66° above E horizon

A more detailed table of C/2020 Q1 (Borisov)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2020 Q1 (Borisov) is available here.

At the moment of perihelion it will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 01:08 (EDT) and reaching an altitude of 36° above the eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks around 04:46.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2020 Q1 (Borisov) 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 C/2020 Q1 (Borisov) 05h37m40s 27°45'N Taurus 11.9

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 13 August 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

24-day old moon
Waning Crescent


24 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:37 12:44 19:51
Venus 02:29 09:47 17:05
Moon 00:36 08:03 15:40
Mars 22:34 04:55 11:16
Jupiter 18:04 22:43 03:21
Saturn 18:31 23:16 04:00
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 15 Mar 2021.

Image credit

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






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