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

Comet C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS) passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS) will make its closest approach to the Sun on 9 May, at a distance of 3.07 AU.

From Cambridge 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 2023 apparition of C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS) are as follows:

Date Event
09 May 2023Comet C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS) passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS) will be visible from Cambridge day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
18 Apr 2023TelescopiumNot observable
20 Apr 2023IndusNot observable
22 Apr 2023IndusNot observable
24 Apr 2023IndusNot observable
26 Apr 2023IndusNot observable
28 Apr 2023IndusNot observable
30 Apr 2023IndusNot observable
02 May 2023IndusNot observable
04 May 2023IndusNot observable
06 May 2023IndusNot observable
08 May 2023PavoNot observable
10 May 2023PavoNot observable
12 May 2023PavoNot observable
14 May 2023PavoNot observable
16 May 2023PavoNot observable
18 May 2023PavoNot observable
20 May 2023PavoNot observable
22 May 2023PavoNot observable
24 May 2023PavoNot observable
26 May 2023PavoNot observable
28 May 2023PavoNot observable

A more detailed table of C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS)'s position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of C/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS) is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of C/2020 K1 (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 9 May 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/2020 K1 (PANSTARRS) 20h50m20s 60°34'S Pavo 11.6

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 09 May 2023

The sky on 09 May 2023
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

19-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


19 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:05 11:54 18:44
Venus 07:53 15:43 23:33
Moon 23:42 03:57 08:12
Mars 09:42 17:17 00:52
Jupiter 04:42 11:21 18:00
Saturn 02:45 08:08 13:31
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 29 Mar 2023.

Image credit

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






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