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

15P/Finlay at perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Comets feed

Objects: 15P/Finlay
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Comet 15P/Finlay will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.00 AU.

From Limoges the 2021 apparition of 15P/Finlay will progress as follows:

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18 Jun 2021 – 15P/Finlay at perigee
07 Jul 2021 – 15P/Finlay reaches its brightest
14 Jul 2021 – 15P/Finlay at perihelion
23 Jun 2021CetusNot observable
25 Jun 2021CetusNot observable
27 Jun 2021AriesNot observable
29 Jun 2021AriesNot observable
01 Jul 2021AriesNot observable
03 Jul 2021AriesNot observable
05 Jul 2021AriesNot observable
07 Jul 2021AriesNot observable
09 Jul 2021TaurusNot observable
11 Jul 2021TaurusNot observable
13 Jul 2021TaurusNot observable
15 Jul 2021TaurusNot observable
17 Jul 2021TaurusNot observable
19 Jul 2021TaurusNot observable
21 Jul 2021TaurusNot observable
23 Jul 2021TaurusNot observable
25 Jul 2021TaurusVisible from 04:55 until 04:59
Highest at 04:59, 22° above E horizon
27 Jul 2021TaurusVisible from 04:54 until 05:03
Highest at 05:03, 23° above E horizon
29 Jul 2021TaurusVisible from 04:52 until 05:06
Highest at 05:06, 24° above E horizon
31 Jul 2021TaurusVisible from 04:51 until 05:10
Highest at 05:10, 25° above E horizon
02 Aug 2021TaurusVisible from 04:50 until 05:14
Highest at 05:14, 26° above E horizon

A more detailed table of 15P/Finlay's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 15P/Finlay 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 18° above the horizon at dawn.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 15P/Finlay 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 8 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.

This comet is not expected to be visible to the naked eye, but might be visible through bird-watching binoculars.

The comet's position at perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet 15P/Finlay 03h44m20s 18°40'N Taurus 8.4

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 14 July 2021
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

4-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


4 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 04:56 12:40 20:24
Venus 08:48 16:01 23:15
Moon 10:42 17:47 00:35
Mars 08:44 15:56 23:08
Jupiter 23:29 04:41 09:53
Saturn 22:40 03:25 08:10
All times shown in CEST.


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.






Color scheme