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

C/2019 N1 (ATLAS) at perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2019 N1 (ATLAS) will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.70 AU.

From Fairfield the 2020 apparition of C/2019 N1 (ATLAS) 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.
01 Dec 2020 – C/2019 N1 (ATLAS) at perihelion
10 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
12 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
14 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
16 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
18 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
20 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
22 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
24 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
26 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
28 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
30 Nov 2020VirgoNot observable
02 Dec 2020HydraNot observable
04 Dec 2020HydraNot observable
06 Dec 2020HydraNot observable
08 Dec 2020HydraNot observable
10 Dec 2020HydraNot observable
12 Dec 2020HydraNot observable
14 Dec 2020CentaurusNot observable
16 Dec 2020CentaurusNot observable
18 Dec 2020CentaurusNot observable
20 Dec 2020CentaurusNot observable

A more detailed table of C/2019 N1 (ATLAS)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2019 N1 (ATLAS) is available here.

At the moment of perihelion it will not be observable – it will reach its highest point in the sky during daytime and will be no higher than 11° above the horizon at dawn.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2019 N1 (ATLAS) 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 11 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/2019 N1 (ATLAS) 13h59m00s -22°01' Virgo 11.2

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 01 December 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

16-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


16 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:07 10:59 15:51
Venus 04:38 09:52 15:05
Moon 17:23 00:21 08:06
Mars 13:43 20:10 02:36
Jupiter 10:18 15:01 19:45
Saturn 10:27 15:12 19:58
All times shown in EST.


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 18 Apr 2021.

Image credit

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






Color scheme