Comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff will reach its perihelion (the closest point on its orbit to the Sun) today (Tuesday 14 January 2020), when it will be approximately 1.58 AU from the Sun (i.e. 158% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, slightly outside the orbit of the planet Mars). The comet will be 0.86 AU from the Earth at the time of the perihelion, in the constellation of Aries seen from the Earth, and it will be visible with a good pair of binoculars.
Image of Comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff taken on 25 August 2019 from Balen in Belgium. The comet is the small object indicated by the arrow, the elongate objects are stars that have moved over the course of the 26 minute exposure. Alfons Diepvens.
Comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff was discovered in January 1987 by Jennifer Wiseman, then an undergraduate at the Michigan Institute of Technology, while examining two photographic plates taken in December 1986 by Brian Skiff at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The designation 114P/Wiseman-Skiff implies that it was the 114th Periodic Comet (Periodic Comets are defined as comets with orbital periods of less than 200 years) discovered, and that it was discovered by Wiseman and Skiff.
Comet 114P/Wiseman-Skiff has an orbital period of 2435 days (6.67 years) and a highly eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 18.3° to the plain of the Solar System, that brings it from 1.57 AU from the Sun at perihelion (157% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, and slightly outside the orbit of the planet Mars); to 5.51 AU from the Sun at aphelion (5.51 times as far from the Sun as the Earth or slightly outside the orbit of the planet Jupiter). As a comet with a period of less than 20 years with an orbit angled at less than 30° to the plane of the Solar System, 114P/Wiseman-Skiff is considered to be a Jupiter Family Comet.
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