Key Facts

  • Categorized as a Halley-type Comet
  • Comparable in size to the island of Manhattan (3.60 km diameter)
  • Will pass within 19,819,587 km of Earth in 2163
  • Classified as a Near Earth Asteroid (NEA)
  • Not a Potentially Hazardous Object
  • See orbit simulation


55P/Tempel-Tuttle is a mid-sized comet with a medium-length orbit that is highly inclined to the ecliptic plane of the solar system. NASA JPL has classified 55P/Tempel-Tuttle 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.

55P/Tempel-Tuttle orbits the sun every 12,100 days (33.13 years), coming as close as 0.98 AU and reaching as far as 19.70 AU from the sun. Its orbit is highly elliptical. 55P/Tempel-Tuttle is about 3.6 kilometers in diameter, making it larger than 99% of asteroids, comparable in size to the island of Manhattan.

Close Approaches

55P/Tempel-Tuttle's orbit is 0.01 AU from Earth's orbit at its closest point. This means that its orbit is relatively close to Earth's orbit.

55P/Tempel-Tuttle has 1 close approaches predicted in the coming decades:

Date Distance from Earth (km) Velocity (km/s)
Dec. 18, 2163 19,819,587 70.225

Images and Observations

55P/Tempel-Tuttle's orbit is determined by observations dating back to Dec. 22, 1865. It was last officially observed on July 5, 1998. The IAU Minor Planet Center records 392 observations used to determine its orbit.

Accessibility and Exploration

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

Similar Objects

These objects have orbits that share similar characteristics to the orbit of 55P/Tempel-Tuttle:



   or view a random object

Orbital Elements

  • Epoch: 2451040.5 JD
  • Semi-major axis: 10.34 AU
  • Eccentricity: 0.9056
  • Inclination: 162.49°
  • Longitude of Ascending Node: 235.27°
  • Argument of Periapsis: 172.5°
  • Mean Anomaly: 4.98°

Physical Characteristics

  • Diameter: 3.60000 km
  • Magnitude: 10.0
  • Albedo: 0.06

Derived Characteristics

  • Orbit Period: 12,100 days (33.13 years)
  • Avg. Orbit Speed: 9.30 km/s
  • Aphelion Distance: 19.70 AU
  • Perihelion Distance: 0.98 AU

Map Comparison

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Orbit Simulation

Sky Map

The position of 55P/Tempel-Tuttle 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.

Size Rendering

The above comparison is an artistic rendering that uses available data on the diameter of 55P/Tempel-Tuttle to create an approximate landscape rendering with Mount Everest in the background. This approximation is built for full-resolution desktop browsers. Shape, color, and texture of asteroid are imagined.