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

Comet 118P/Shoemaker-Levy passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet 118P/Shoemaker-Levy will make its closest approach to the Sun on 24 November, at a distance of 1.83 AU.

From Fairfield on the day of perihelion it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible around 23:36, when it reaches an altitude of 21° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 04:06, 56° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight around 05:39, 50° above your south-western horizon.

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The events that comprise the 2022 apparition of 118P/Shoemaker-Levy are as follows:

Date Event
24 Nov 2022Comet 118P/Shoemaker-Levy passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when 118P/Shoemaker-Levy will be visible from Fairfield day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
03 Nov 2022Canis MinorVisible from 01:26 until 06:17
Highest at 06:01, 58° above S horizon
05 Nov 2022Canis MinorVisible from 01:21 until 06:19
Highest at 05:56, 58° above S horizon
07 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 00:17 until 05:21
Highest at 04:51, 58° above S horizon
09 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 00:13 until 05:23
Highest at 04:46, 58° above S horizon
11 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 00:08 until 05:25
Highest at 04:41, 57° above S horizon
13 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 00:04 until 05:27
Highest at 04:36, 57° above S horizon
15 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 23:59 until 05:29
Highest at 04:31, 57° above S horizon
17 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 23:54 until 05:31
Highest at 04:26, 57° above S horizon
19 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 23:49 until 05:34
Highest at 04:20, 57° above S horizon
21 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 23:44 until 05:36
Highest at 04:15, 57° above S horizon
23 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 23:39 until 05:38
Highest at 04:09, 57° above S horizon
25 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 23:34 until 05:40
Highest at 04:03, 57° above S horizon
27 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 23:28 until 05:42
Highest at 03:58, 57° above S horizon
29 Nov 2022CancerVisible from 23:22 until 05:44
Highest at 03:52, 56° above S horizon
01 Dec 2022CancerVisible from 23:16 until 05:45
Highest at 03:46, 56° above S horizon
03 Dec 2022CancerVisible from 23:10 until 05:47
Highest at 03:39, 56° above S horizon
05 Dec 2022CancerVisible from 23:04 until 05:49
Highest at 03:33, 56° above S horizon
07 Dec 2022CancerVisible from 22:58 until 05:51
Highest at 03:26, 56° above S horizon
09 Dec 2022CancerVisible from 22:51 until 05:52
Highest at 03:20, 56° above S horizon
11 Dec 2022CancerVisible from 22:44 until 05:54
Highest at 03:13, 56° above S horizon
13 Dec 2022CancerVisible from 22:37 until 05:55
Highest at 03:06, 56° above S horizon

A more detailed table of 118P/Shoemaker-Levy's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 118P/Shoemaker-Levy is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 118P/Shoemaker-Levy 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 on 24 November 2022. 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 118P/Shoemaker-Levy 08h26m30s 7°49'N Cancer 11.1

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 24 Nov 2022

The sky on 24 November 2022
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

1-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


1 day old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:41 12:15 16:49
Venus 07:32 12:13 16:53
Moon 07:41 12:20 16:54
Mars 17:20 00:59 08:38
Jupiter 13:37 19:34 01:30
Saturn 12:01 17:05 22:09
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 02 Jan 2024.

Image credit

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





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