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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
SunriseRise: 6:35  
clear_day Transit: 12:10  
SunsetSet: 17:45
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Comets » 

Comet Encke (2P/Encke)

Altitude: -21.6°   Azimuth: 92.3°   Direction: East

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 Capricornus, at a distance of 453,719,721 kilometers from Earth.

Finder chart of 2P/Encke in Capricornus on March,05 2024
Map showing Comet Encke (2P/Encke) in Capricornus on March, 05 2024. Field of view: 50x30 degrees
View interactive star map
The current Right Ascension of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) is 21h 34m 05s and the Declination is -18° 07’ 54” (topocentric coordinates computed for the selected location: Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt). The current estimated magnitude of Comet Encke (2P/Encke) is 19.43 (JPL).

21h 34m 05s
-18° 07’ 54”

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: 108.1°
Max altitude: 20.4°
Azimuth: 251.9°
  • 2P/Encke is below the horizon from Greenwich, United Kingdom edit_location_alt.
  • Given its current magnitude, 2P/Encke 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.

Additional Resources

Comet Encke (2P/Encke) Position and Finder Charts

Finder chart of 2P/Encke
Map showing Comet Encke (2P/Encke) in Capricornus on March, 05 2024
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.

RA: 21h 34m 05s
Dec: -18° 07’ 54”
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 453,719,721 kilometers, equivalent to 3.032929 Astronomical Units. Light takes 25 minutes and 13.4461 seconds to travel from Comet Encke (2P/Encke) and arrive to us.

25 minutes and 13.4461 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 2P/Encke 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 0.190257 Astronomical Units, or 28,462,061 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 06 January 2017 00:00 UTC (JD: 2457760.5). Source: JPL Small-Body Database

Element Symbol Value
Orbit eccentricity e 0.84833408
Orbit inclination i 11.77822630°
Perihelion distance q 0.33590100 AU
50,250,075 km
Aphelion distance Q 4.09358455 AU
612,391,533 km
Semi-major axis a 2.21474278 AU
331,320,804 km
Orbital period period 3.2960 years
1,203.8805 days
Date of perihelion transit Tp 2017-Mar-10 02:13:14
2,457,822.5925 JD
Next perihelion transit 2020-Jun-25 23:21
2,459,026.4730 JD
Argument of perihelion peri 186.56269392°
Longitude of the ascending node node 334.56005331322°
Mean anomaly M 341.43228384528°
Mean motion n 0.29903301°/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
2024 Feb 27 21h 23m 02s -19° 04’ 33” 19.34 Capricornus
2024 Feb 28 21h 24m 38s -18° 56’ 32” 19.35 Capricornus
2024 Feb 29 21h 26m 12s -18° 48’ 34” 19.36 Capricornus
2024 Mar 01 21h 27m 46s -18° 40’ 37” 19.38 Capricornus
2024 Mar 02 21h 29m 17s -18° 32’ 42” 19.39 Capricornus
2024 Mar 03 21h 30m 50s -18° 24’ 48” 19.40 Capricornus
2024 Mar 04 21h 32m 21s -18° 16’ 56” 19.41 Capricornus
2024 Mar 05 21h 33m 51s -18° 09’ 07” 19.43 Capricornus
2024 Mar 06 21h 35m 20s -18° 01’ 21” 19.44 Capricornus
2024 Mar 07 21h 36m 48s -17° 53’ 35” 19.45 Capricornus
2024 Mar 08 21h 38m 16s -17° 45’ 51” 19.46 Capricornus
2024 Mar 09 21h 39m 42s -17° 38’ 11” 19.47 Capricornus
2024 Mar 10 21h 41m 08s -17° 30’ 33” 19.48 Capricornus
2024 Mar 11 21h 42m 33s -17° 22’ 57” 19.49 Capricornus