Comet 141P Machholz 2, from SLOOH, Canary 1 December 14, 2020, 2013 UT, Comet is in the center.

I discovered Periodic Comet 141/P Machholz 2 on August 13, 1994.  At that time, the main comet had four components found near it.  They were labeled A, B, C, D, and E.  Near the end of that visit, two more small components were found, so we had Components A-G.  The comet has an orbital period of about 5.3 years.

In 1999 it returned and was assigned the number 141.  So the official name of the comet is 141P/Machholz 2.  At the 1999 return, only the main comet (Component A) and Component D appeared.

In 2005, on its next return, only the main comet was observed.

In 2010 the comet was behind the sun at perihelion and not observed.

In 2015 the comet was well-observed, and a faint component, labeled H, was observed.

In 2020 the comet was picked up in August 2020, at magnitude 21, with the PanSTARRS system.  It was soon realized to be the return of the comet.  In December 2020, two components were found near the main comet, and Sam Deen calculated they are components D and H.  Deen also links Component H to Component B.

The comet will reach perihelion on December 16, 2020, at 0.81 astronomical units.  It will remain in our evening sky, slowly moving east and north.

On its next visit, in 2026, the comet will be behind the sun and difficult to see.

In December 2036, 141P/Machholz 2 will approach within 11 million miles of the earth.

Don Machholz

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