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

Comet C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

Comet C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) will make its closest approach to the Sun on 20 October, at a distance of 0.34 AU.

From Fairfield on the day 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.

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The events that comprise the 2020 apparition of C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) are as follows:

Date Event
13 Oct 2020Comet C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) passes perigee
20 Oct 2020Comet C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) will be visible from Fairfield day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
29 Sep 2020CentaurusNot observable
01 Oct 2020CentaurusNot observable
03 Oct 2020CentaurusNot observable
05 Oct 2020CentaurusNot observable
07 Oct 2020HydraNot observable
09 Oct 2020HydraNot observable
11 Oct 2020CorvusNot observable
13 Oct 2020CorvusNot observable
15 Oct 2020CorvusNot observable
17 Oct 2020VirgoNot observable
19 Oct 2020VirgoNot observable
21 Oct 2020VirgoNot observable
23 Oct 2020VirgoNot observable
25 Oct 2020VirgoNot observable
27 Oct 2020VirgoNot observable
29 Oct 2020VirgoNot observable
31 Oct 2020VirgoNot observable
02 Nov 2020BootesNot observable
04 Nov 2020BootesNot observable
06 Nov 2020BootesNot observable
08 Nov 2020BootesNot observable

A more detailed table of C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) 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 C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) is currently available.

The comet's position at perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) 12h52m30s 3°11'S Virgo 5.4

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 20 Oct 2020

The sky on 20 October 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

4-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


4 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 08:12 13:15 18:18
Venus 04:03 10:23 16:43
Moon 11:42 16:26 21:06
Mars 17:49 00:09 06:30
Jupiter 13:38 18:17 22:56
Saturn 14:00 18:43 23:26
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 27 Apr 2024.

Image credit

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





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