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
sunny DaytimeWhat's Visible Now
Comets » 

Comet Encke (2P/Encke)

Comet 2P/Encke is a periodic comet that takes about 3.3 years to complete one orbit around the Sun. It was first discovered by Pierre Méchain on January 17, 1786, and was later independently rediscovered by Johann Franz Encke on November 2, 1818. The comet is named after Encke, who calculated its orbit and predicted its return in 1822. Comet 2P/Encke has a relatively short orbital period and its orbit is known for being influenced by the gravitational pull of Jupiter. It has an average distance from the Sun of about 2.2 astronomical units (AU) and an eccentricity of 0.85, which means its perihelion distance is only 0.34 AU while its aphelion distance is around 3.5 AU. Comet 2P/Encke is known for being a source of the Taurid meteor shower, which occurs every year in late October and early November as Earth passes through the dust and debris left behind by the comet.

Comet Encke (2P/Encke) is currently in the constellation of Pisces.

The current Right Ascension of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) is 01h 37m 11s and the Declination is +15° 53’ 22” (topocentric coordinates computed for the selected location: Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt). The current estimated magnitude of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) is 19.38 (JPL).

01h 37m 11s
+15° 53’ 22”

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 Encke (2P/Encke) from Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt (all times relative to the local timezone Europe/London):

Azimuth: 74.2°
Max altitude: 54.4°
Azimuth: 285.9°
  • Encke's Comet is above the horizon from Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt.
  • Right now it is placed in the West direction at an altitude of 12° above the horizon.
  • Given its current magnitude, Encke's Comet 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 Encke (2P/Encke) Position and Finder Charts

Below we provide Comet Encke (2P/Encke) 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 Encke's Comet in Pisces on May,29 2023
Map showing Comet Encke (2P/Encke) in Pisces on May, 29 2023
Field of view: 50x30 degrees
View fullscreen
Finder chart of Encke's Comet
Map showing Comet Encke (2P/Encke) in Pisces on May, 29 2023
Field of view: 10x6 degrees
View fullscreen

Higher precision deep sky finder chart, 60 arcmin wide, showing where Comet Encke (2P/Encke) is right now. Click on the image to see a more detailed fullscreen tracker view.

Encke's Comet
RA: 01h 37m 11s
Dec: +15° 53’ 22”
Deep sky finder chart for Comet Encke (2P/Encke)
Field of view: 60x40 arcmins
View fullscreen

Also check out Where is Comet Encke (2P/Encke)?, a page that provides all the information needed to find Comet Encke (2P/Encke) in the sky and additional links to sky charts.

Comet Encke (2P/Encke) Distance from Earth

The distance of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) from Earth is currently 444,444,579 kilometers, equivalent to 2.970929 Astronomical Units. Light takes 24 minutes and 42.5075 seconds to travel from Comet Encke (2P/Encke) and arrive to us.

24 minutes and 42.5075 seconds

The following chart shows the distance of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) 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 Encke (2P/Encke) 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 Encke's Comet from Earth is also available as a real time updated value in the Live Position and Data Tracker.

Closest Approach of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) to Earth

Between 1 January 1900 and 31 December 2099, the closest approach of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) to Earth happens on Sat Jul 5 1997 at a distance of 0.190251 Astronomical Units, or 28,461,076 kilometers:

Sat Jul 5 1997

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

Comet Encke (2P/Encke) Brightness and Light Curve

The following chart is the predicted light curve (visual magnitude as a function of time) of Comet Encke (2P/Encke), 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 Encke (2P/Encke) as a function of time

Comet Encke (2P/Encke) Orbital Elements

The following table lists the orbital elements of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) at epoch 02 February 2016 00:00 UTC (JD: 2457421.5). Source: JPL Small-Body Database

Element Symbol Value
Orbit eccentricity e 0.84835644
Orbit inclination i 11.78098098°
Perihelion distance q 0.33589835 AU
50,249,677 km
Aphelion distance Q 4.09420537 AU
612,484,407 km
Semi-major axis a 2.21505186 AU
331,367,042 km
Orbital period period 3.2967 years
1,204.1325 days
Date of perihelion transit Tp 2017-Mar-10 01:32:00
2,457,822.5639 JD
Next perihelion transit 2020-Jun-26 04:42
2,459,026.6964 JD
Argument of perihelion peri 186.55102755369°
Longitude of the ascending node node 334.56715974497°
Mean anomaly M 240.09375903991°
Mean motion n 0.29897042°/day

Visualization of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) Orbit

This 3d orbit diagram is a feature of our 3D Solar System Simulator and shows the orbit of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) with respect of the Sun and the orbits of the major planets. The position of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) 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 Encke (2P/Encke)
View Comet Encke (2P/Encke) in the 3D Solar System Simulator

Comet Encke (2P/Encke) 15 Days Ephemeris

The following table lists the ephemerides of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) computed for the past and next 7 days, with a 24 hours interval. Click on each row of the table to locate Comet Encke (2P/Encke) in our Online Planetarium at the chosen date.

Date Right AscensionR.A. DeclinationDec. MagnitudeMag Constellation
2023 May 22 01h 25m 27s +14° 33’ 03” 19.54 Pisces
2023 May 23 01h 26m 57s +14° 43’ 28” 19.52 Pisces
2023 May 24 01h 28m 28s +14° 53’ 54” 19.50 Pisces
2023 May 25 01h 30m 01s +15° 04’ 23” 19.48 Pisces
2023 May 26 01h 31m 32s +15° 14’ 54” 19.46 Pisces
2023 May 27 01h 33m 05s +15° 25’ 27” 19.44 Pisces
2023 May 28 01h 34m 37s +15° 36’ 02” 19.41 Pisces
2023 May 29 01h 36m 11s +15° 46’ 40” 19.39 Pisces
2023 May 30 01h 37m 45s +15° 57’ 20” 19.37 Pisces
2023 May 31 01h 39m 20s +16° 08’ 00” 19.35 Pisces
2023 Jun 01 01h 40m 54s +16° 18’ 45” 19.33 Pisces
2023 Jun 02 01h 42m 30s +16° 29’ 31” 19.31 Pisces
2023 Jun 03 01h 44m 07s +16° 40’ 19” 19.28 Pisces
2023 Jun 04 01h 45m 43s +16° 51’ 11” 19.26 Pisces