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

Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan will make its closest approach to the Sun on 25 December, at a distance of 1.26 AU.

From Seattle on the day of perihelion it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible around 00:14, when it reaches an altitude of 21° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 05:06, 56° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight around 06:32, 52° above your south-western horizon.

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 2023–2024 apparition of 62P/Tsuchinshan are as follows:

Date Event
25 Dec 2023Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan passes perihelion
29 Dec 2023Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan reaches peak brightness

The table below lists the times when 62P/Tsuchinshan will be visible from Seattle day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
04 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:08 until 06:16
Highest at 05:15, 60° above S horizon
06 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:10 until 06:18
Highest at 05:15, 60° above S horizon
08 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:11 until 06:20
Highest at 05:14, 60° above S horizon
10 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:12 until 06:22
Highest at 05:14, 59° above S horizon
12 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:13 until 06:24
Highest at 05:13, 59° above S horizon
14 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:14 until 06:25
Highest at 05:13, 58° above S horizon
16 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:15 until 06:27
Highest at 05:12, 58° above S horizon
18 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:15 until 06:28
Highest at 05:11, 58° above S horizon
20 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:16 until 06:29
Highest at 05:10, 57° above S horizon
22 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:16 until 06:30
Highest at 05:09, 57° above S horizon
24 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:16 until 06:31
Highest at 05:08, 57° above S horizon
26 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:16 until 06:32
Highest at 05:06, 56° above S horizon
28 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:16 until 06:33
Highest at 05:05, 56° above S horizon
30 Dec 2023LeoVisible from 00:16 until 06:33
Highest at 05:03, 56° above S horizon
01 Jan 2024LeoVisible from 00:15 until 06:33
Highest at 05:01, 55° above S horizon
03 Jan 2024LeoVisible from 00:14 until 06:34
Highest at 04:59, 55° above S horizon
05 Jan 2024LeoVisible from 00:13 until 06:34
Highest at 04:56, 55° above S horizon
07 Jan 2024LeoVisible from 00:11 until 06:33
Highest at 04:53, 55° above S horizon
09 Jan 2024LeoVisible from 00:09 until 06:33
Highest at 04:51, 54° above S horizon
11 Jan 2024VirgoVisible from 00:07 until 06:33
Highest at 04:47, 54° above S horizon
13 Jan 2024VirgoVisible from 00:05 until 06:32
Highest at 04:44, 54° above S horizon

A more detailed table of 62P/Tsuchinshan's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 62P/Tsuchinshan is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 62P/Tsuchinshan 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 9 on 25 December 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 62P/Tsuchinshan 11h11m50s 14°13'N Leo 8.6

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 25 Dec 2023

The sky on 25 December 2023
Sunrise
07:54
Sunset
16:21
Twilight ends
18:14
Twilight begins
06:00

13-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous

99%

13 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:10 11:37 16:04
Venus 04:39 09:25 14:11
Moon 14:52 23:30 08:13
Mars 07:10 11:19 15:29
Jupiter 13:07 20:05 03:03
Saturn 11:03 16:12 21:21
All times shown in PST.

Source

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 Jan 2024.

Image credit

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

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