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

Comet 96P/Machholz passes perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet 96P/Machholz will make its closest approach to the Sun on 11 May, at a distance of 0.12 AU.

From Fairfield 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 5° from it.

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The events that comprise the 2028 apparition of 96P/Machholz are as follows:

Date Event
11 May 2028Comet 96P/Machholz passes perihelion

The table below lists the times when 96P/Machholz will be visible from Fairfield day-by-day through its apparition:

Date Constellation Comet visibility
20 Apr 2028CetusNot observable
22 Apr 2028CetusNot observable
24 Apr 2028CetusNot observable
26 Apr 2028CetusNot observable
28 Apr 2028CetusNot observable
30 Apr 2028CetusNot observable
02 May 2028CetusNot observable
04 May 2028CetusNot observable
06 May 2028CetusNot observable
08 May 2028AriesNot observable
10 May 2028TaurusNot observable
12 May 2028TaurusNot observable
14 May 2028TaurusNot observable
16 May 2028PerseusNot observable
18 May 2028PerseusNot observable
20 May 2028PerseusNot observable
22 May 2028PerseusNot observable
24 May 2028PerseusNot observable
26 May 2028PerseusNot observable
28 May 2028PerseusNot observable
30 May 2028PerseusVisible from 03:47 until 03:58
Highest at 03:58, 23° above NE horizon

A more detailed table of 96P/Machholz's position on each night is available here. A diagram of the orbit of 96P/Machholz is available here.

Finder chart

The chart below shows the path of 96P/Machholz 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.

No estimate for the brightness of comet 96P/Machholz is currently available.

The comet's position at perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet 96P/Machholz 03h31m40s 21°31'N Taurus 4.4

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 11 May 2028

The sky on 11 May 2028
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

17-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


17 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:35 14:13 21:51
Venus 06:53 14:44 22:35
Moon 22:29 02:58 07:28
Mars 05:08 12:03 18:58
Jupiter 14:21 20:46 03:12
Saturn 04:59 11:40 18:20
All times shown in EDT.


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 22 Feb 2023.

Image credit

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






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