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

Comet 88P/Howell passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Comets feed

Objects: 88P/Howell
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The sky at

Comet 88P/Howell will make its closest approach to the Sun on 25 September, at a distance of 1.36 AU.

From Ashburn on the day of perihelion it will not be observable – it will reach its highest point in the sky during daytime and will be no higher than 14° above the horizon at dusk.

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The events that comprise the 2020 apparition of 88P/Howell are as follows:

Date Event
17 Sep 2020Comet 88P/Howell reaches peak brightness
25 Sep 2020Comet 88P/Howell passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when 88P/Howell will be visible from Ashburn day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
04 Sep 2020LibraNot observable
06 Sep 2020LibraNot observable
08 Sep 2020LibraNot observable
10 Sep 2020LibraNot observable
12 Sep 2020LibraNot observable
14 Sep 2020ScorpiusNot observable
16 Sep 2020ScorpiusNot observable
18 Sep 2020ScorpiusNot observable
20 Sep 2020ScorpiusNot observable
22 Sep 2020ScorpiusNot observable
24 Sep 2020ScorpiusNot observable
26 Sep 2020ScorpiusNot observable
28 Sep 2020ScorpiusNot observable
30 Sep 2020ScorpiusNot observable
02 Oct 2020OphiuchusNot observable
04 Oct 2020OphiuchusNot observable
06 Oct 2020OphiuchusNot observable
08 Oct 2020OphiuchusNot observable
10 Oct 2020OphiuchusNot observable
12 Oct 2020OphiuchusNot observable
14 Oct 2020SagittariusNot observable

A more detailed table of 88P/Howell's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 88P/Howell is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 88P/Howell 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.

No estimate for the brightness of comet 88P/Howell is currently available.

The comet's position at perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet 88P/Howell 16h28m50s 25°22'S Scorpius 8.5

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 25 Sep 2020

The sky on 25 September 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

8-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


8 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 09:08 14:29 19:50
Venus 03:34 10:25 17:16
Moon 15:59 20:46 01:35
Mars 20:10 02:34 08:58
Jupiter 15:20 20:04 00:48
Saturn 15:47 20:37 01:26
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 02 Jan 2024.

Image credit

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





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