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

Comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) will make its closest approach to the Sun on 19 December, at a distance of 1.80 AU.

From Fairfield on the day of perihelion it will not be observable because it will lie so far south that it never rises above the horizon.

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The events that comprise the 2022–2023 apparition of C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) are as follows:

Date Event
19 Dec 2022Comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) will be visible from Fairfield day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
28 Nov 2022AraNot observable
30 Nov 2022AraNot observable
02 Dec 2022AraNot observable
04 Dec 2022AraNot observable
06 Dec 2022AraNot observable
08 Dec 2022AraNot observable
10 Dec 2022AraNot observable
12 Dec 2022AraNot observable
14 Dec 2022PavoNot observable
16 Dec 2022PavoNot observable
18 Dec 2022PavoNot observable
20 Dec 2022PavoNot observable
22 Dec 2022PavoNot observable
24 Dec 2022PavoNot observable
26 Dec 2022PavoNot observable
28 Dec 2022PavoNot observable
30 Dec 2022PavoNot observable
01 Jan 2023PavoNot observable
03 Jan 2023PavoNot observable
05 Jan 2023PavoNot observable
07 Jan 2023PavoNot observable

A more detailed table of C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) 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 9 on 19 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.

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 C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS) 17h57m10s 60°19'S Pavo 8.9

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 19 Dec 2022

The sky on 19 December 2022
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

26-day old moon
Waning Crescent


26 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 08:44 13:16 17:47
Venus 08:18 12:50 17:22
Moon 02:41 08:12 13:33
Mars 14:58 22:37 06:16
Jupiter 12:01 17:59 23:57
Saturn 10:27 15:34 20:40
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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