British Astronomical Association
Comet Section

2013 Campaign - 2P/Encke

2penckvis.png (27822 bytes)This year sees comet 2P/Encke's 62nd observed return to perihelion since its discovery by Mechain in 1786.  2p_20000805a_man.jpg (36659 bytes)The orbit is quite stable, and with a period of 3.3 years apparitions repeat on a 10-year cycle.  This year the comet is well seen from the Northern Hemisphere prior to perihelion, which is in late November.  The comet brightens rapidly during September and could be visible in large binoculars by the end of the month.  It crosses from the evening to the morning sky through October and will sink into the morning twilight by mid November, when it could be 6th magnitude.  This magnitude may however be optimistic as observations from the SOHO spacecraft in 2000 showed that it suddenly brightened after perihelion, by 2psecular.JPG (189949 bytes) which time it will be at a poor elongation.  A possible explanation for this behaviour is that Encke has two active regions, an old one with declining activity, which operates prior to perihelion and a recently activated one present after perihelion.  There is, however, little evidence for a secular fading in the archive of BAA observations of the comet, and the observations are consistent with no change.  The comet is the progenitor of the Taurid meteor complex and may be associated with several Apollo asteroids.  This suggests that on occasion it may outburst, though nothing major has been detected to date.

The comet is the focus of a Section campaign for 2013.  

Visual observers 

CCD observers: 


Published by Jonathan Shanklin. Jon Shanklin -