Discovered byEllen Howell
Discovery dateAugust 29, 1981
1981 X; 1987 VI; 1993 II
Orbital characteristics A
EpochMarch 6, 2006
Aphelion4.865 AU
Perihelion1.366 AU
Semi-major axis3.116 AU
Orbital period5.5 yr
Earth MOID0.35 AU (52 million km; 140 LD)
Jupiter MOID0.46 AU (69 million km)
Dimensions4.4 km[4]
Last perihelion2020-Sep-26[1]
April 6, 2015[2][3]
Next perihelion2026-03-18[1]

88P/Howell is a periodic comet with a 5.5 year orbital period. It was discovered on 29 August 1981.[5] In 1975 the comet's perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) was 1.9 AU,[1] but a close approach to Jupiter in 1978[4] perturbed the perihelion distance closer to the Sun. During the 2009 apparition the comet became as bright as apparent magnitude 8.[2][6]

It last came to perihelion on 6 April 2015; the next perihelion will be on 26 September 2020.[2] On 14 September 2031 the comet will pass 0.074 AU (11.1 million km; 6.9 million mi) from Mars.[4] Between 2000–2050 the closest the comet will come to Earth is 0.76 AU (114 million km; 71 million mi) in June 2042.

In response to New Frontiers program call for Mission 4, a team from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) submitted a mission concept proposal called Comet Rendezvous, Sample Acquisition, Investigation, and Return (CORSAIR) that would perform a sample return from comet 88P/Howell.[7][8]

During the 2020 apparition the comet has brightened to about apparent magnitude 10.7[6] and should reach magnitude 9.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "88P/Howell Orbit". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 2014-11-01.
  2. ^ a b c d Seiichi Yoshida (2011-07-22). "88P/Howell". Seiichi Yoshida's Comet Catalog. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  3. ^ Patrick Rocher (February 6, 2011). "Note number : 0081 P/Howell : 88P". Institut de mécanique céleste et de calcul des éphémérides. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
  4. ^ a b c "JPL Close-Approach Data: 88P/Howell" (last observation: 2014-04-08; arc: 11.18 years). Retrieved 2014-10-27.
  5. ^ Kronk, Gary W. "88P/Howell". Cometography. Retrieved 2014-11-01.
  6. ^ a b "88P/Howell plot at Comet Observation database (COBS)". Retrieved 2020-07-17.
  7. ^ CORSAIR (COmet Rendezvous, Sample Acquisition, Investigation, and Return): A New Frontiers Mission Concept to Collect Samples from a Comet and Return them to Earth for Study (PDF). S. A. Sandford, N. L. Chabot, N. Dello Russo, J. C. Leary, E. L. Reynolds, H. A. Weaver, D. H. Wooden. 80th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society 2017 (LPI Contrib. No. 1987).
  8. ^ "Proposed New Frontiers Missions". Future Planetary Exploration. 4 August 2017. Archived from the original on 20 September 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-20.

External links

  • Orbital simulation from JPL (Java) / Horizons Ephemeris
  • 88P at Kronk's Cometography
  • 88P at CometBase database
Numbered comets
88P/Howell Next