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

Comet C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS) passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS) will make its closest approach to the Sun on 29 March, at a distance of 3.62 AU.

From Fairfield on the day of perihelion it will be visible between 20:29 and 04:18. It will become accessible around 20:29, when it rises to an altitude of 21° above your eastern horizon. It will reach its highest point in the sky at 00:23, 47° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible around 04:18 when it sinks below 21° above your south-western horizon.

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The events that comprise the 2023 apparition of C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS) are as follows:

Date Event
29 Mar 2023Comet C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS) passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS) will be visible from Fairfield day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
08 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 21:32 until 05:10
Highest at 01:30, 48° above S horizon
10 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 21:21 until 05:06
Highest at 01:18, 48° above S horizon
12 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 21:09 until 06:03
Highest at 01:06, 48° above S horizon
14 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 21:57 until 05:51
Highest at 01:54, 48° above S horizon
16 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 21:45 until 05:38
Highest at 01:42, 48° above S horizon
18 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 21:34 until 05:26
Highest at 01:30, 48° above S horizon
20 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 21:22 until 05:13
Highest at 01:17, 48° above S horizon
22 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 21:10 until 05:01
Highest at 01:05, 48° above S horizon
24 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 20:58 until 04:48
Highest at 00:53, 47° above S horizon
26 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 20:46 until 04:35
Highest at 00:41, 47° above S horizon
28 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 20:34 until 04:23
Highest at 00:28, 47° above S horizon
30 Mar 2023VirgoVisible from 20:21 until 04:10
Highest at 00:16, 47° above S horizon
01 Apr 2023VirgoVisible from 20:23 until 03:58
Highest at 00:04, 47° above S horizon
03 Apr 2023VirgoVisible from 20:26 until 03:42
Highest at 23:48, 47° above S horizon
05 Apr 2023VirgoVisible from 20:28 until 03:29
Highest at 23:36, 47° above S horizon
07 Apr 2023LeoVisible from 20:31 until 03:17
Highest at 23:24, 47° above S horizon
09 Apr 2023LeoVisible from 20:33 until 03:05
Highest at 23:12, 47° above S horizon
11 Apr 2023LeoVisible from 20:36 until 02:52
Highest at 23:00, 47° above S horizon
13 Apr 2023LeoVisible from 20:38 until 02:40
Highest at 22:49, 47° above S horizon
15 Apr 2023LeoVisible from 20:41 until 02:28
Highest at 22:37, 47° above S horizon
17 Apr 2023LeoVisible from 20:43 until 02:17
Highest at 22:26, 47° above S horizon

A more detailed table of C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS) is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2019 U5 (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 12 on 29 March 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/2019 U5 (PANSTARRS) 11h56m10s 1°32'S Virgo 11.8

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 29 Mar 2023

The sky on 29 March 2023
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

8-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


8 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:07 13:40 20:13
Venus 08:08 15:14 22:19
Moon 11:41 19:47 03:47
Mars 10:50 18:32 02:14
Jupiter 07:09 13:34 19:59
Saturn 05:24 10:44 16:05
All times shown in EDT.


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 03 Mar 2023.

Image credit

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






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