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

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks reaches peak brightness

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is forecast to reach the brightest point in its 2024 apparition on 21 April. At that time, it will lie at a distance of 0.78 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 1.60 AU from the Earth.

From San Diego on 21 April it will not be observable – it will reach its highest point in the sky during daytime and will be no higher than 3° above the horizon at dusk.

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 2024 apparition of 12P/Pons-Brooks are as follows:

Date Event
21 Apr 2024Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks reaches peak brightness
21 Apr 2024Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when 12P/Pons-Brooks will be visible from San Diego day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
31 Mar 2024AriesNot observable
02 Apr 2024AriesNot observable
04 Apr 2024AriesNot observable
06 Apr 2024AriesNot observable
08 Apr 2024AriesNot observable
10 Apr 2024AriesNot observable
12 Apr 2024AriesNot observable
14 Apr 2024AriesNot observable
16 Apr 2024AriesNot observable
18 Apr 2024AriesNot observable
20 Apr 2024TaurusNot observable
22 Apr 2024TaurusNot observable
24 Apr 2024TaurusNot observable
26 Apr 2024TaurusNot observable
28 Apr 2024TaurusNot observable
30 Apr 2024TaurusNot observable
02 May 2024TaurusNot observable
04 May 2024EridanusNot observable
06 May 2024EridanusNot observable
08 May 2024EridanusNot observable
10 May 2024EridanusNot observable

A more detailed table of 12P/Pons-Brooks's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 12P/Pons-Brooks is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 12P/Pons-Brooks 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 5 on 21 April 2024. This estimate is based on observations that the BAA has received from amateur astronomers, assuming that its current level of activity will remain constant.

The comet's position on 21 April 2024 will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks 03h29m20s 9°33'N Taurus 5.2

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 21 Apr 2024

The sky on 21 April 2024
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

13-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


13 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:29 11:47 18:05
Venus 05:44 12:03 18:23
Moon 17:33 23:34 05:27
Mars 04:30 10:23 16:15
Jupiter 07:15 14:04 20:54
Saturn 04:12 09:56 15:40
All times shown in PDT.


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 07 Jul 2024.

Image credit

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


San Diego



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