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

Comet C/2022 U2 (ATLAS) passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2022 U2 (ATLAS) will make its closest approach to the Sun on 14 January, at a distance of 1.33 AU.

From San Diego on the day of perihelion it will be visible all night because it is circumpolar. It will be highest in the sky at dusk, becoming accessible at around 18:05 (PDT), 47° above your northern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 05:46, 18° above your northern horizon.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

The events that comprise the 2022–2023 apparition of C/2022 U2 (ATLAS) are as follows:

Date Event
14 Jan 2023Comet C/2022 U2 (ATLAS) passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when C/2022 U2 (ATLAS) will be visible from San Diego day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
24 Dec 2022DracoVisible from 17:51 until 05:42
Highest at 17:51, 40° above N horizon
26 Dec 2022DracoVisible from 17:52 until 05:43
Highest at 17:52, 40° above N horizon
28 Dec 2022CepheusVisible from 17:53 until 05:44
Highest at 17:53, 40° above N horizon
30 Dec 2022CepheusVisible from 17:54 until 05:45
Highest at 17:54, 40° above N horizon
01 Jan 2023CepheusVisible from 17:56 until 05:45
Highest at 17:56, 41° above N horizon
03 Jan 2023CepheusVisible from 17:57 until 05:46
Highest at 17:57, 41° above N horizon
05 Jan 2023CepheusVisible from 17:58 until 05:46
Highest at 17:58, 42° above N horizon
07 Jan 2023CepheusVisible from 18:00 until 05:46
Highest at 18:00, 43° above N horizon
09 Jan 2023CepheusVisible from 18:01 until 05:46
Highest at 18:01, 44° above N horizon
11 Jan 2023CassiopeiaVisible from 18:03 until 05:47
Highest at 18:03, 45° above N horizon
13 Jan 2023CassiopeiaVisible from 18:05 until 05:46
Highest at 18:05, 47° above N horizon
15 Jan 2023CassiopeiaVisible from 18:06 until 05:46
Highest at 18:08, 48° above N horizon
17 Jan 2023CassiopeiaVisible from 18:08 until 05:46
Highest at 18:32, 50° above N horizon
19 Jan 2023CassiopeiaVisible from 18:10 until 05:46
Highest at 18:52, 53° above N horizon
21 Jan 2023CamelopardalisVisible from 18:11 until 02:38
Highest at 19:07, 55° above N horizon
23 Jan 2023CamelopardalisVisible from 18:13 until 02:32
Highest at 19:18, 58° above N horizon
25 Jan 2023CamelopardalisVisible from 18:15 until 02:26
Highest at 19:27, 61° above N horizon
27 Jan 2023CamelopardalisVisible from 18:16 until 02:19
Highest at 19:33, 64° above N horizon
29 Jan 2023CamelopardalisVisible from 18:18 until 02:11
Highest at 19:37, 67° above N horizon
31 Jan 2023PerseusVisible from 18:20 until 02:03
Highest at 19:40, 71° above N horizon
02 Feb 2023PerseusVisible from 18:21 until 01:55
Highest at 19:42, 74° above N horizon

A more detailed table of C/2022 U2 (ATLAS)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2022 U2 (ATLAS) is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2022 U2 (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 11 on 14 January 2023. 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/2022 U2 (ATLAS) 01h34m00s 75°26'N Cassiopeia 11.2

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 14 Jan 2023

The sky on 14 January 2023
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

22-day old moon
Waning Crescent


22 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:40 10:50 15:59
Venus 08:06 13:21 18:36
Moon 23:19 05:20 11:14
Mars 13:22 20:33 03:44
Jupiter 10:21 16:23 22:26
Saturn 08:33 13:57 19:21
All times shown in PST.


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 26 May 2024.

Image credit

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


San Diego



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