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

Comet 81P/Wild passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Comets feed

Objects: 81P/Wild
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Comet 81P/Wild will make its closest approach to the Sun on 15 December, at a distance of 1.60 AU.

From Fairfield on the day of perihelion it will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 02:32 (EDT) and reaching an altitude of 31° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 05:57.

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The events that comprise the 2022–2023 apparition of 81P/Wild are as follows:

Date Event
15 Dec 2022Comet 81P/Wild passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when 81P/Wild will be visible from Fairfield day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
24 Nov 2022VirgoVisible from 04:44 until 05:39
Highest at 05:39, 31° above SE horizon
26 Nov 2022VirgoVisible from 04:44 until 05:41
Highest at 05:41, 31° above SE horizon
28 Nov 2022VirgoVisible from 04:44 until 05:43
Highest at 05:43, 31° above SE horizon
30 Nov 2022VirgoVisible from 04:44 until 05:45
Highest at 05:45, 31° above SE horizon
02 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:44 until 05:46
Highest at 05:46, 31° above SE horizon
04 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:44 until 05:48
Highest at 05:48, 31° above SE horizon
06 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:44 until 05:50
Highest at 05:50, 31° above SE horizon
08 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:45 until 05:52
Highest at 05:52, 32° above SE horizon
10 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:45 until 05:53
Highest at 05:53, 32° above SE horizon
12 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:45 until 05:55
Highest at 05:55, 32° above SE horizon
14 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:45 until 05:56
Highest at 05:56, 32° above SE horizon
16 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:45 until 05:57
Highest at 05:57, 32° above SE horizon
18 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:45 until 05:59
Highest at 05:59, 32° above SE horizon
20 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:45 until 06:00
Highest at 06:00, 32° above SE horizon
22 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:45 until 06:01
Highest at 06:01, 32° above SE horizon
24 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:45 until 06:02
Highest at 06:02, 32° above SE horizon
26 Dec 2022VirgoVisible from 04:45 until 06:03
Highest at 06:03, 32° above SE horizon
28 Dec 2022LibraVisible from 04:45 until 06:03
Highest at 06:03, 32° above SE horizon
30 Dec 2022LibraVisible from 04:44 until 06:04
Highest at 06:04, 31° above SE horizon
01 Jan 2023LibraVisible from 04:44 until 06:04
Highest at 06:04, 31° above SE horizon
03 Jan 2023LibraVisible from 04:44 until 06:05
Highest at 06:05, 31° above SE horizon

A more detailed table of 81P/Wild's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 81P/Wild is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 81P/Wild 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 on 15 December 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 81P/Wild 13h46m30s 9°06'S Virgo 10.5

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 15 Dec 2022

The sky on 15 December 2022
Sunrise
07:09
Sunset
16:24
Twilight ends
18:04
Twilight begins
05:29

22-day old moon
Waning Gibbous

52%

22 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 08:42 13:09 17:37
Venus 08:13 12:44 17:15
Moon 22:22 05:18 12:04
Mars 15:19 22:58 06:38
Jupiter 12:16 18:14 00:11
Saturn 10:42 15:48 20:54
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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Fairfield

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41.14°N
73.26°W
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