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

Comet 141P/Machholz passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet 141P/Machholz will make its closest approach to the Sun on 17 December, at a distance of 0.81 AU.

From Ashburn on the day of perihelion it will become visible at around 17:58 (EST), 31° above your south-western horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting at 21:11.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

The events that comprise the 2020–2021 apparition of 141P/Machholz are as follows:

Date Event
17 Dec 2020Comet 141P/Machholz passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when 141P/Machholz will be visible from Ashburn day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
26 Nov 2020AquilaVisible from 17:56 until 18:52
Highest at 17:56, 30° above SW horizon
28 Nov 2020AquilaVisible from 17:56 until 18:52
Highest at 17:56, 30° above SW horizon
30 Nov 2020AquilaVisible from 17:55 until 18:53
Highest at 17:55, 30° above SW horizon
02 Dec 2020CapricornusVisible from 17:55 until 18:54
Highest at 17:55, 30° above SW horizon
04 Dec 2020CapricornusVisible from 17:55 until 18:55
Highest at 17:55, 31° above SW horizon
06 Dec 2020CapricornusVisible from 17:55 until 18:56
Highest at 17:55, 31° above SW horizon
08 Dec 2020CapricornusVisible from 17:55 until 18:57
Highest at 17:55, 31° above SW horizon
10 Dec 2020AquariusVisible from 17:56 until 18:59
Highest at 17:56, 31° above SW horizon
12 Dec 2020AquariusVisible from 17:56 until 19:01
Highest at 17:56, 32° above SW horizon
14 Dec 2020AquariusVisible from 17:57 until 19:04
Highest at 17:57, 32° above SW horizon
16 Dec 2020AquariusVisible from 17:57 until 19:06
Highest at 17:57, 32° above SW horizon
18 Dec 2020AquariusVisible from 17:58 until 19:09
Highest at 17:58, 32° above SW horizon
20 Dec 2020CapricornusVisible from 17:59 until 19:13
Highest at 17:59, 33° above SW horizon
22 Dec 2020CapricornusVisible from 18:00 until 19:17
Highest at 18:00, 33° above SW horizon
24 Dec 2020CapricornusVisible from 18:01 until 19:21
Highest at 18:01, 34° above SW horizon
26 Dec 2020AquariusVisible from 18:02 until 19:25
Highest at 18:02, 34° above SW horizon
28 Dec 2020AquariusVisible from 18:04 until 19:31
Highest at 18:04, 35° above SW horizon
30 Dec 2020AquariusVisible from 18:05 until 19:36
Highest at 18:05, 35° above SW horizon
01 Jan 2021AquariusVisible from 18:06 until 19:42
Highest at 18:06, 36° above SW horizon
03 Jan 2021AquariusVisible from 18:08 until 19:49
Highest at 18:08, 36° above SW horizon
05 Jan 2021AquariusVisible from 18:10 until 19:56
Highest at 18:10, 37° above SW horizon

A more detailed table of 141P/Machholz's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 141P/Machholz is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 141P/Machholz 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 141P/Machholz is currently available.

The comet's position at perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet 141P/Machholz 21h16m30s 9°11'S Aquarius 9.2

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 17 Dec 2020

The sky on 17 December 2020
Sunrise
07:21
Sunset
16:48
Twilight ends
18:25
Twilight begins
05:44

3-day old moon
Waxing Crescent

15%

3 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:22 11:58 16:35
Venus 05:27 10:24 15:21
Moon 10:14 15:05 20:01
Mars 13:08 19:40 02:12
Jupiter 09:37 14:28 19:20
Saturn 09:38 14:30 19:22
All times shown in EST.

Source

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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Ashburn

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39.04°N
77.49°W
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