Key Facts

Overview

20D/Westphal is a large comet with a medium-length orbit that is highly inclined to the ecliptic plane of the solar system. NASA JPL has classified 20D/Westphal as a "Near Earth Asteroid" due to its orbit's proximity to Earth, but it is not considered potentially hazardous because computer simulations have not indicated any imminent likelihood of future collision.

20D/Westphal orbits the sun every 22,600 days (61.88 years), coming as close as 1.25 AU and reaching as far as 30.03 AU from the sun. Its orbit is highly elliptical. Based on its brightness and the way it reflects light, 20D/Westphal is probably between 2658.000 to 5943.469 kilometers in diameter, making it the largest asteroid/dwarf planet, very roughly comparable in size to the U.S. state of Alaska.

No Close Approaches

20D/Westphal's orbit is 0.47 AU from Earth's orbit at its closest point. This means that there is an wide berth between this asteroid and Earth at all times.

Orbital simulations conducted by NASA JPL's CNEOS do not show any close approaches to Earth.

Images and Observations

20D/Westphal's orbit is determined by observations dating back to Sept. 1, 1852. It was last officially observed on Oct. 13, 1913. The IAU Minor Planet Center records 201 observations used to determine its orbit.

Accessibility and Exploration

This comet is not considered a viable target for human exploration by the NHATS study.

References

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Orbital Elements

  • Epoch: 2420080.5 JD
  • Semi-major axis: 15.64 AU
  • Eccentricity: 0.9198
  • Inclination: 40.89°
  • Longitude of Ascending Node: 348.01°
  • Argument of Periapsis: 57.08°
  • Mean Anomaly: 359.72°

Physical Characteristics

  • Diameter: ~3431.463 km
  • Magnitude: 8.8

Derived Characteristics

  • Orbit Period: 22,600 days (61.88 years)
  • Avg. Orbit Speed: 7.53 km/s
  • Aphelion Distance: 30.03 AU
  • Perihelion Distance: 1.25 AU

Map Comparison

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Orbit Simulation

Sky Map

The position of 20D/Westphal is indicated by a ◯ pink circle. Note that the object may not be in your current field of view. Use the controls below to adjust position, location, and time.