Comet 2P / Encke

There are three comets to look out for the next few months and into next year.

These are, Comet 2P / Encke, 29P / Schwassman-Wachmann and 103P / Hartley 2.

Here’s the details and map for Comet 2P / Encke.

Comet 2p / Encke.
This comet is currently moving from the northern part of Cancer into Leo.
It is currently about 10th magnitude, so is a relatively easy target for astrophotographers.
It has an orbital period of 3.3 years, and comes to perihelion on the 22nd of October, when it could get as bright as 7th magnitude.

The comet passes a few distinct stars and objects as it approaches perihelion and will be visible in the early morning sky.
On the 27th of September, it lies close to the 3rd magnitude star Ras Elasid in the top of the Sickle of Leo.
The comet passes close to the 3rd magnitude star Gamma Leonis, Algeiba in the neck of Leo on the 1st of October.
It passes through the lower part of Leo on the 5th of October, passing south of the spiral galaxy Messier 66 on the 8th of October.
But it is getting a lot lower in the pre-dawn sky and starting to move down into the light of dawn.
The comet speeds up as it approaches The Sun as it moves into Virgo. The comet is soon lost in the bright morning sky.
On the 26th of October, it lies very close to the first magnitude star Spica, 4 days after perihelion, but there’s no chance of seeing anything as The Sun isn’t that far away. I added the position of The Sun on the 26th.
We will not be able to spot it when it comes out the other side of The Sun, as the orbit of the comet keeps it fairly close to The Sun as seen from Earth for quite a while, so we are unlikely to catch up with this comet again until at least July next year.

Yes, I have exaggerated the size of the comet in my map. It won’t be anywhere near as big as it is shown here.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.