Drier Air Returns In Time For The ‘Christmas’ Comet Sunday!

S102985516 Night Sky Will Come Alive When Christmas Comet Streaks By Earth

"This comet has already been visible in larger amateur telescopes, and while the brightness of comets is notoriously hard to predict, there is the possibility that during its close approach comet 46P/Wirtanen could be visible with binoculars or to the naked eye".

With a width of 0.7 miles (1.1 kilometers), 46P/Wirtanen orbits the Sun fairly quickly for a comet - once every 5.4 years - making it a short-period comet.

"This will be the closest comet Wirtanen has come to Earth for centuries and the closest it will come to Earth for centuries", Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. It was closest to the sun on December 12.

Much like watching a meteor shower, you'll want to be in an area without much light pollution.

Astronomer Carl Wirtanen discovered the comet in 1948 at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton in Santa Clara County, California.

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"Look towards the east with a small pair of binoculars or a telescope to see the green, fuzzy comet". But even now, it's currently the brightest comet in the night sky, and the brightest of 2018. Check TimeandDate.com to figure out the best time in your part of the world. You can also see it with this virtual telescope as a live stream. It has a diameter of about three-quarters of a mile - a relatively small comet. Wirtanen stands out among comets because its surface contains a lot of methane and carbon, as well as the usual water ice. But the atmosphere around the comet, or coma, is bigger than Jupiter. That's what creates the glowing green cloud.

David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine, said Comet Wirtanen would be visible to the naked eye in dark rural areas, but also in city suburbs when it was at its brightest.

Earth Sky reports the comet's closest approach to Earth will be Sunday and people should be able to view it between 9:30 and 10 p.m.

Comet 46P was originally chosen by the European Space Agency to land the Rosetta probe on its surface, but launch delays caused a new target to be selected.

"We have dubbed Comet Wirtanen "the Christmas Comet of 2018" for this reason". "So that means watching this comet each time it comes near could be important". Some spots across the country will have a better chance of seeing it than others.

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