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

C/2019 L3 (ATLAS) at perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2019 L3 (ATLAS) will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 3.55 AU.

From Ashburn the 2021–2022 apparition of C/2019 L3 (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.
10 Jan 2022 – C/2019 L3 (ATLAS) at perihelion
20 Dec 2021GeminiVisible from 19:44 until 06:13
Highest at 01:38, 86° above S horizon
22 Dec 2021GeminiVisible from 19:35 until 06:14
Highest at 01:28, 85° above S horizon
24 Dec 2021GeminiVisible from 19:26 until 06:15
Highest at 01:19, 85° above S horizon
26 Dec 2021GeminiVisible from 19:17 until 06:16
Highest at 01:09, 85° above S horizon
28 Dec 2021GeminiVisible from 19:08 until 06:16
Highest at 00:59, 84° above S horizon
30 Dec 2021GeminiVisible from 19:00 until 06:17
Highest at 00:49, 84° above S horizon
01 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:51 until 06:17
Highest at 00:39, 84° above S horizon
03 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:42 until 06:16
Highest at 00:29, 83° above S horizon
05 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:33 until 06:05
Highest at 00:19, 83° above S horizon
07 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:24 until 05:54
Highest at 00:09, 83° above S horizon
09 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:13 until 05:39
Highest at 23:55, 82° above S horizon
11 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:15 until 05:27
Highest at 23:45, 82° above S horizon
13 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:16 until 05:16
Highest at 23:35, 81° above S horizon
15 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:18 until 05:05
Highest at 23:26, 81° above S horizon
17 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:20 until 04:54
Highest at 23:16, 81° above S horizon
19 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:22 until 04:43
Highest at 23:06, 80° above S horizon
21 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:24 until 04:33
Highest at 22:57, 80° above S horizon
23 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:26 until 04:22
Highest at 22:47, 79° above S horizon
25 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:28 until 04:11
Highest at 22:37, 79° above S horizon
27 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:30 until 04:00
Highest at 22:28, 79° above S horizon
29 Jan 2022GeminiVisible from 18:32 until 03:50
Highest at 22:19, 78° above S horizon

A more detailed table of C/2019 L3 (ATLAS)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2019 L3 (ATLAS) is available here.

At the moment of perihelion it will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible around 18:14 (EST), 22° above your north-eastern horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 23:51, 82° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 05:34, when it sinks below 21° above your north-western horizon.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2019 L3 (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 10 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 L3 (ATLAS) 07h04m00s 31°07'N Gemini 9.6

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 10 January 2022
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

8-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


8 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 08:32 13:33 18:35
Venus 06:56 12:01 17:06
Moon 12:16 18:59 01:51
Mars 05:22 10:04 14:46
Jupiter 09:42 15:06 20:31
Saturn 08:47 13:50 18:53
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 04 Jan 2022.

Image credit

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






Color scheme