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A Complete Guide to the Solar System and the Night Sky
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public Observing fromLocation: Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt
north SunriseRise: 7:45  
clear_day Transit: 11:48  
SunsetSet: 15:51 south
sleep NighttimeWhat's Visible Now?
Comets » 

Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann

Altitude: 3.1°   Azimuth: 60.4°   Direction: East-North-East

Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann is a periodic comet discovered on November 15, 1927 by German astronomers Arnold Schwassmann and Arno Wachmann. It is also known as Comet Schwassmann–Wachmann 1. It moves along a low eccentricity orbit between Jupiter and Saturn, that takes it from a perihelion distance of 5.8 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun to an aphelion distance of 6.3 AU. It completes one orbit around the Sun every 14.9 years. Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann is also known for its unpredictable outbursts which, in the space of few hours, can cause it to brighten significantly, up to 5 magnitudes.

Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann is currently in the constellation of Cancer.

The current Right Ascension of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann is 08h 43m 01s and the Declination is +20° 29’ 10” (topocentric coordinates computed for the selected location: Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt). The current estimated magnitude of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann is 17.37 (JPL) while the latest observed magnitude is 15.0 (COBS).

08h 43m 01s
+20° 29’ 10”

The observed values of Magnitude, Coma Diameter and Tail Length are derived from the most recent observation recorded at the Comet Observers Database. The value of Predicted Magnitude comes from the JPL Horizons ephemerides service and, in the case of comets, might be inaccurate given the highly dynamic and unpredictable behavior of these objects. When available, please refer to the Observed Magnitude value and consider the Predicted Magnitude as a directional indication. We acknowledge with thanks the comet observations from the COBS Comet Observation Database contributed by observers worldwide and used in this table to report recent comet observations.

Today's rise, transit and set times of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann from Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt (all times relative to the local timezone Europe/London):

Azimuth: 69.5°
Max altitude: 59.0°
Azimuth: 290.5°
  • 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann is above the horizon from Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt.
  • Right now it is placed in the East-North-East direction at an altitude of 3° above the horizon.
  • Given its current magnitude, 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann is visible with the help of a telescope having an aperture of 20 inches (500mm) or more.
  • Go to interactive sky chart

If you need to access this information frequently for your observations, you can create a simple customized Quick Access page, so that you can easily bookmark it in your browser favorites or add a shortcut to your mobile phones' home screen.

Available Resources

Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Position and Finder Charts

Below we provide Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann finder charts showing where the object is right now in the sky with respect to the brightest stars. The first finder chart has a field of view of 50 degrees, while the second one has a field of view of 10 degrees. Click on each finder chart to access a full screen interactive Online Planetarium.

Finder chart of 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann in Cancer on December,04 2023
Map showing Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann in Cancer on December, 04 2023
Field of view: 50x30 degrees
View fullscreen
Finder chart of 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann
Map showing Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann in Cancer on December, 04 2023
Field of view: 10x6 degrees
View fullscreen

Higher precision deep sky finder chart, 60 arcmin wide, showing where Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann is right now. Click on the image to see a more detailed fullscreen tracker view.

RA: 08h 43m 01s
Dec: +20° 29’ 10”
Deep sky finder chart for Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann
Field of view: 60x40 arcmins
View fullscreen

Also check out Where is Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann?, a page that provides all the information needed to find Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann in the sky and additional links to sky charts.

Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Distance from Earth

The distance of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann from Earth is currently 830,094,553 kilometers, equivalent to 5.548839 Astronomical Units. Light takes 46 minutes and 8.8974 seconds to travel from Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann and arrive to us.

46 minutes and 8.8974 seconds

The following chart shows the distance of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann from Earth as a function of time. In the chart the distance data is measured in Astronomical Units and sampled with an interval of 1 day.

Chart of the distance of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann from Earth in Astronomical Units (au)

The value of the reported distance might be somewhat inaccurate around the times of closest approach for objects passing extremely close to Earth. The value of the distance of 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann from Earth is also available as a real time updated value in the Live Position and Data Tracker.

Closest Approach of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann to Earth

Between 1 January 2013 and 30 December 2100, the closest approach of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann to Earth happens on Fri Oct 13 2034 at a distance of 4.725860 Astronomical Units, or 706,978,666 kilometers:

Fri Oct 13 2034

NOTE: values for the closest approach are computed with a sampling interval of 1 day.

Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Brightness and Light Curve

The following chart is the predicted light curve (visual magnitude as a function of time) of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, according to the most recent ephemerides data. Magnitude data is sampled with a 2 days interval and there might be inaccuracies for objects changing brightness very rapidly during the course of a few days. For comets there could be large discrepancies between the observed and predicted brightness because of their highly dynamic behaviour.

Chart of the magnitude of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann as a function of time

Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Orbital Elements

The following table lists the orbital elements of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann at epoch 31 December 2022 00:00 UTC (JD: 2459945.5). Source: JPL Small-Body Database

Element Symbol Value
Orbit eccentricity e 0.04475336
Orbit inclination i 9.36406979°
Perihelion distance q 5.77653321 AU
864,157,070 km
Aphelion distance Q 6.31779504 AU
945,128,688 km
Semi-major axis a 6.04716413 AU
904,642,879 km
Orbital period period 14.8709 years
5,431.5785 days
Date of perihelion transit Tp 2019-Apr-19 19:00:43
2,458,593.2922 JD
Next perihelion transit 2034-Mar-03 08:53
2,464,024.8707 JD
Argument of perihelion peri 50.913318057458°
Longitude of the ascending node node 312.39414949962°
Mean anomaly M 89.623084588802°
Mean motion n 0.06627908°/day

Visualization of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann Orbit

This 3d orbit diagram is a feature of our 3D Solar System Simulator and shows the orbit of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann with respect of the Sun and the orbits of the major planets. The position of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann and the planets along their orbits in this diagram accurately represents the current configuration of the objects in the Solar System. This is an experimental feature and it requires a WebGL enabled browser. Please provide us feedback!

Orbit Diagram of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann
View Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann in the 3D Solar System Simulator

Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 15 Days Ephemeris

The following table lists the ephemerides of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann computed for the past and next 7 days, with a 24 hours interval. Click on each row of the table to locate Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann in our Online Planetarium at the chosen date.

Date Right AscensionR.A. DeclinationDec. MagnitudeMag Constellation
2023 Nov 27 08h 43m 49s +20° 28’ 54” 17.42 Cancer
2023 Nov 28 08h 43m 45s +20° 28’ 48” 17.41 Cancer
2023 Nov 29 08h 43m 40s +20° 28’ 45” 17.40 Cancer
2023 Nov 30 08h 43m 35s +20° 28’ 44” 17.40 Cancer
2023 Dec 01 08h 43m 29s +20° 28’ 45” 17.39 Cancer
2023 Dec 02 08h 43m 23s +20° 28’ 49” 17.39 Cancer
2023 Dec 03 08h 43m 15s +20° 28’ 54” 17.38 Cancer
2023 Dec 04 08h 43m 08s +20° 29’ 03” 17.38 Cancer
2023 Dec 05 08h 43m 00s +20° 29’ 13” 17.37 Cancer
2023 Dec 06 08h 42m 50s +20° 29’ 26” 17.37 Cancer
2023 Dec 07 08h 42m 39s +20° 29’ 42” 17.36 Cancer
2023 Dec 08 08h 42m 29s +20° 29’ 58” 17.36 Cancer
2023 Dec 09 08h 42m 19s +20° 30’ 17” 17.35 Cancer
2023 Dec 10 08h 42m 06s +20° 30’ 38” 17.35 Cancer