Your Guide to the Solar System and the Night Sky
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public Observing fromLocation: Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt
north SunriseRise: 4:51  
clear_day Transit: 12:56  
SunsetSet: 21:00 south
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Comets » 

Comet 9P/Tempel

Comet 9P/Tempel (also known as comet Tempel 1) was discovered by Ernst Tempel on April 3, 1867. It has an orbital period of 5.6 years and travels on a relatively highly elliptical path around the Sun, with a perihelion distance of 1.5 astronomical units (AU) and an aphelion distance of 4.8 AU. The comet is known for its famous encounter with NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft in 2005, during which a projectile was launched to impact the surface of the comet, creating a crater and ejecting debris. The event provided scientists with valuable data about the composition and structure of comets, as well as their potential as carriers of water and organic molecules.

Comet 9P/Tempel is currently in the constellation of Cetus.

The current Right Ascension of Comet 9P/Tempel is 02h 09m 32s and the Declination is +06° 30’ 17” (topocentric coordinates computed for the selected location: Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt). The current estimated magnitude of Comet 9P/Tempel is 21.20 (JPL).

02h 09m 32s
+06° 30’ 17”

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 9P/Tempel from Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt (all times relative to the local timezone Europe/London):

Azimuth: 83.5°
Max altitude: 45.0°
Azimuth: 276.5°
  • 9P/Tempel is above the horizon from Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt.
  • Right now it is placed in the West-South-West direction at an altitude of 28° above the horizon.
  • Given its current magnitude, 9P/Tempel is visible only through long exposure photography.
  • 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 9P/Tempel Position and Finder Charts

Below we provide Comet 9P/Tempel 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 9P/Tempel in Cetus on May,29 2023
Map showing Comet 9P/Tempel in Cetus on May, 29 2023
Field of view: 50x30 degrees
View fullscreen
Finder chart of 9P/Tempel
Map showing Comet 9P/Tempel in Cetus on May, 29 2023
Field of view: 10x6 degrees
View fullscreen

Higher precision deep sky finder chart, 60 arcmin wide, showing where Comet 9P/Tempel is right now. Click on the image to see a more detailed fullscreen tracker view.

RA: 02h 09m 32s
Dec: +06° 30’ 17”
Deep sky finder chart for Comet 9P/Tempel
Field of view: 60x40 arcmins
View fullscreen

Also check out Where is Comet 9P/Tempel?, a page that provides all the information needed to find Comet 9P/Tempel in the sky and additional links to sky charts.

Comet 9P/Tempel Distance from Earth

The distance of Comet 9P/Tempel from Earth is currently 658,629,175 kilometers, equivalent to 4.402664 Astronomical Units. Light takes 36 minutes and 36.9504 seconds to travel from Comet 9P/Tempel and arrive to us.

36 minutes and 36.9504 seconds

The following chart shows the distance of Comet 9P/Tempel 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 9P/Tempel 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 9P/Tempel from Earth is also available as a real time updated value in the Live Position and Data Tracker.

Closest Approach of Comet 9P/Tempel to Earth

Between 1 January 2013 and 30 December 2100, the closest approach of Comet 9P/Tempel to Earth happens on Sat Jun 16 2040 at a distance of 0.946206 Astronomical Units, or 141,550,459 kilometers:

Sat Jun 16 2040

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

Comet 9P/Tempel Brightness and Light Curve

The following chart is the predicted light curve (visual magnitude as a function of time) of Comet 9P/Tempel, 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 9P/Tempel as a function of time

Comet 9P/Tempel Orbital Elements

The following table lists the orbital elements of Comet 9P/Tempel at epoch 04 January 2016 00:00 UTC (JD: 2457392.5). Source: JPL Small-Body Database

Element Symbol Value
Orbit eccentricity e 0.50979998
Orbit inclination i 10.47325643°
Perihelion distance q 1.54243138 AU
230,744,451 km
Aphelion distance Q 4.75063805 AU
710,685,339 km
Semi-major axis a 3.14653472 AU
470,714,895 km
Orbital period period 5.5816 years
2,038.6713 days
Date of perihelion transit Tp 2016-Aug-02 13:26:37
2,457,603.0602 JD
Next perihelion transit 2022-Mar-03 05:33
2,459,641.7315 JD
Argument of perihelion peri 179.18829807753°
Longitude of the ascending node node 68.764569049953°
Mean anomaly M 322.81810912754°
Mean motion n 0.17658560°/day

Visualization of Comet 9P/Tempel Orbit

This 3d orbit diagram is a feature of our 3D Solar System Simulator and shows the orbit of Comet 9P/Tempel with respect of the Sun and the orbits of the major planets. The position of Comet 9P/Tempel 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!

Comet 9P/Tempel 15 Days Ephemeris

The following table lists the ephemerides of Comet 9P/Tempel computed for the past and next 7 days, with a 24 hours interval. Click on each row of the table to locate Comet 9P/Tempel in our Online Planetarium at the chosen date.

Date Right AscensionR.A. DeclinationDec. MagnitudeMag Constellation
2023 May 22 02h 01m 47s +05° 48’ 35” 21.17 Pisces
2023 May 23 02h 02m 50s +05° 54’ 19” 21.18 Pisces
2023 May 24 02h 03m 52s +05° 59’ 57” 21.18 Pisces
2023 May 25 02h 04m 54s +06° 05’ 34” 21.18 Pisces
2023 May 26 02h 05m 57s +06° 11’ 07” 21.19 Pisces
2023 May 27 02h 06m 57s +06° 16’ 36” 21.19 Cetus
2023 May 28 02h 07m 59s +06° 22’ 00” 21.19 Cetus
2023 May 29 02h 08m 59s +06° 27’ 24” 21.19 Cetus
2023 May 30 02h 10m 00s +06° 32’ 41” 21.20 Cetus
2023 May 31 02h 10m 59s +06° 37’ 58” 21.20 Cetus
2023 Jun 01 02h 12m 00s +06° 43’ 09” 21.20 Cetus
2023 Jun 02 02h 12m 59s +06° 48’ 17” 21.20 Cetus
2023 Jun 03 02h 13m 58s +06° 53’ 21” 21.21 Cetus
2023 Jun 04 02h 14m 57s +06° 58’ 23” 21.21 Cetus