59 days ago
Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Comets feed
Comet 96P/Machholz will make its closest approach to the Earth on 31 January, at a distance of of 0.89 AU.
From Ashburn on the day of perigee it will not be readily observable since it will be very close to the Sun, at a separation of only 3° from it.
The events that comprise the 2023 apparition of 96P/Machholz are as follows:
|31 Jan 2023||Comet 96P/Machholz passes perigee|
|31 Jan 2023||Comet 96P/Machholz passes perihelion|
The table below lists the times when 96P/Machholz will be visible from Ashburn day-by-day through its apparition:
|10 Jan 2023||Sagittarius||Not observable|
|12 Jan 2023||Microscopium||Not observable|
|14 Jan 2023||Microscopium||Not observable|
|16 Jan 2023||Microscopium||Not observable|
|18 Jan 2023||Microscopium||Not observable|
|20 Jan 2023||Microscopium||Not observable|
|22 Jan 2023||Microscopium||Not observable|
|24 Jan 2023||Microscopium||Not observable|
|26 Jan 2023||Capricornus||Not observable|
|28 Jan 2023||Capricornus||Not observable|
|30 Jan 2023||Capricornus||Not observable|
|01 Feb 2023||Aquarius||Not observable|
|03 Feb 2023||Aquila||Not observable|
|05 Feb 2023||Aquila||Not observable|
|07 Feb 2023||Aquila||Not observable|
|09 Feb 2023||Aquila||Not observable|
|11 Feb 2023||Aquila||Not observable|
|13 Feb 2023||Aquila||Not observable|
|15 Feb 2023||Aquila||Not observable|
|17 Feb 2023||Aquila||Not observable|
|19 Feb 2023||Aquila||Not observable|
A more detailed table of 96P/Machholz's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 96P/Machholz is available here.
The chart below shows the path of 96P/Machholz 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.
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 4 on 31 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.
The comet's position at perigee will be:
The coordinates are given in J2000.0.
The sky on 31 Jan 2023
|The sky on 31 January 2023|
10 days old
All times shown in EST.
Never attempt to point a pair of binoculars or a telescope at an object close to the Sun. Doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness.
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 29 Mar 2023.
© Andy Roberts 1997. Pictured comet is C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp.