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

Comet C/2022 A2 (PANSTARRS) passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2022 A2 (PANSTARRS) will make its closest approach to the Sun on 18 February, at a distance of 1.74 AU.

From Cambridge on the day of perihelion it will be visible in both the dusk and dawn skies. In the evening, it will become visible at around 18:26 (EST), 26° above your north-western horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then sink towards the horizon, becoming tricky to observe after 19:07 when it dips 21° above your north-western horizon. At 03:53, it will return to an altitude of 21° above your north-eastern horizon, and reach an altitude of 32° before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 05:28.

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The events that comprise the 2023 apparition of C/2022 A2 (PANSTARRS) are as follows:

Date Event
18 Feb 2023Comet C/2022 A2 (PANSTARRS) passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when C/2022 A2 (PANSTARRS) will be visible from Cambridge day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
28 Jan 2023DracoVisible from 18:01 until 05:50
Highest at 05:50, 45° above NE horizon
30 Jan 2023DracoVisible from 18:04 until 05:48
Highest at 05:48, 44° above NE horizon
01 Feb 2023DracoVisible from 18:06 until 18:51
02:41 until 05:47
Highest at 05:47, 42° above NE horizon
03 Feb 2023CygnusVisible from 18:08 until 18:57
02:51 until 05:45
Highest at 05:45, 41° above NE horizon
05 Feb 2023CygnusVisible from 18:11 until 19:02
03:01 until 05:43
Highest at 05:43, 40° above NE horizon
07 Feb 2023CygnusVisible from 18:13 until 19:05
03:11 until 05:41
Highest at 05:41, 39° above NE horizon
09 Feb 2023CepheusVisible from 18:15 until 19:08
03:20 until 05:39
Highest at 05:39, 37° above NE horizon
11 Feb 2023CepheusVisible from 18:18 until 19:09
03:29 until 05:36
Highest at 05:36, 36° above NE horizon
13 Feb 2023CepheusVisible from 18:20 until 19:10
03:38 until 05:34
Highest at 05:34, 35° above NE horizon
15 Feb 2023CepheusVisible from 18:23 until 19:10
03:46 until 05:32
Highest at 05:32, 34° above NE horizon
17 Feb 2023CygnusVisible from 18:25 until 19:09
03:53 until 05:29
Highest at 05:29, 33° above NE horizon
19 Feb 2023CygnusVisible from 18:27 until 19:07
03:59 until 05:26
Highest at 05:26, 32° above NE horizon
21 Feb 2023CygnusVisible from 18:30 until 19:05
04:05 until 05:24
Highest at 05:24, 31° above NE horizon
23 Feb 2023LacertaVisible from 18:32 until 19:03
04:10 until 05:21
Highest at 05:21, 30° above NE horizon
25 Feb 2023LacertaVisible from 18:34 until 19:00
04:15 until 05:18
Highest at 05:18, 30° above NE horizon
27 Feb 2023LacertaVisible from 18:37 until 18:57
04:18 until 05:15
Highest at 05:15, 29° above NE horizon
01 Mar 2023LacertaVisible from 18:39 until 18:53
04:22 until 05:12
Highest at 05:12, 28° above NE horizon
03 Mar 2023LacertaVisible from 18:41 until 18:49
04:24 until 05:09
Highest at 05:09, 27° above NE horizon
05 Mar 2023LacertaVisible from 04:26 until 05:05
Highest at 05:05, 27° above NE horizon
07 Mar 2023LacertaVisible from 04:28 until 05:02
Highest at 05:02, 26° above NE horizon
09 Mar 2023LacertaVisible from 04:29 until 04:59
Highest at 04:59, 26° above NE horizon

A more detailed table of C/2022 A2 (PANSTARRS)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2022 A2 (PANSTARRS) is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2022 A2 (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 10 on 18 February 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 A2 (PANSTARRS) 21h39m10s 54°41'N Cygnus 9.5

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 18 Feb 2023

The sky on 18 February 2023
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

28-day old moon
Waning Crescent


28 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:53 10:42 15:32
Venus 07:47 13:43 19:39
Moon 05:55 10:29 15:10
Mars 10:58 18:43 02:28
Jupiter 08:13 14:26 20:39
Saturn 06:39 11:52 17:04
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 04 Nov 2023.

Image credit

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





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