Monday, 2 September 2019

Comet C/2018 W2 (Africano) approaches perihelion.

Comet  C/2018 W2 (Africano) will reach its perihelion (the closest point on its orbit to the Sun) on Thursday 5 September 2019, when it will be approximately 1.46 AU from the Sun (i.e. 146% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter). The comet will be 0.95 AU from the Earth at the time of the perihelion, in the constellation of Perseus seen from the Earth, and it will be visible with a good pair of binoculars, though it is currently moving towards us and on Friday 27 September will make its closest approach to the Earth, when it will be only 0.49 AU away, in the constellation of Pegasus.

Short video of C/2018 W2 (Africano) made on 29 June 2019 by Michael Jager of Stixendorf in Austria. The video is made up of three long exposure photographs, with the comet being the moving object at the centre of the image and the line across the bottom left part of the image being a satellite. Seiichi Yoshida's Comet Page.

Comet C/2018 W2 (Africano) was discovered on 27 November 2018 by Brian Africano of the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon Survey at the Steward Observatory on Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation The name C/2018 W2 (Africano) implies that it is a non-periodic comet (C/) (all comets are, strictly speaking, periodic since they all orbit the Sun, but those with periods longer than 200 years are considered to be non-periodic), that it was the third comet (comet 2) discovered in the second half of November 2018 (period 2018 W) and that it was discovered by Brian Africano.

The orbit and current position of Comet C/2017 T3 (ATLAS). The Sky Live 3D Solar System Simulator.

C/2018 W2 (Africano) has an unknown orbital period and a highly eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 116° to the plain of the Solar System, that brings it to 1.46 AU from the Sun at perihelion (146% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and slightly inside the orbit of Mars).

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