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

Comet 2P/Encke passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Comets feed

Objects: 2P/Encke
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The sky at

Comet 2P/Encke will make its closest approach to the Sun on 22 October, at a distance of 0.34 AU.

From San Diego on the day of perihelion it will not be readily observable since it will be very close to the Sun, at a separation of only 11° from it.

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 2023 apparition of 2P/Encke are as follows:

Date Event
22 Oct 2023Comet 2P/Encke passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when 2P/Encke will be visible from San Diego day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
01 Oct 2023LeoVisible from 05:35 until 05:42
Highest at 05:42, 23° above E horizon
03 Oct 2023LeoNot observable
05 Oct 2023LeoNot observable
07 Oct 2023LeoNot observable
09 Oct 2023LeoNot observable
11 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
13 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
15 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
17 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
19 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
21 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
23 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
25 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
27 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
29 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
31 Oct 2023VirgoNot observable
02 Nov 2023LibraNot observable
04 Nov 2023LibraNot observable
06 Nov 2023LibraNot observable
08 Nov 2023LibraNot observable
10 Nov 2023LibraNot observable

A more detailed table of 2P/Encke's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 2P/Encke is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 2P/Encke 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 6 on 22 October 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.

This comet is not expected to be visible to the naked eye, but might be visible through bird-watching binoculars.

The comet's position at perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet 2P/Encke 13h02m10s 7°03'S Virgo 6.2

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 22 Oct 2023

The sky on 22 October 2023
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

8-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


8 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:05 12:39 18:12
Venus 03:19 09:39 15:59
Moon 14:38 19:46 01:01
Mars 07:36 13:03 18:29
Jupiter 18:45 01:25 08:05
Saturn 15:26 20:55 02:24
All times shown in PDT.


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 19 Feb 2023.

Image credit

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



San Diego



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