Published on Dec 15, 2018
This weekend, the comet known as 46P/Wirtanen will make one of the 10 closest comet flybys of Earth in 70 years, and you may even be able to see it without a telescope. Comet Wirtanen has already been visible in small amateur telescopes, binoculars and cameras. At the moment it is glowing like a 4th magnitude star, barely visible to the unaided eye. On the nights of closest approach, 46P/Wirtanen can be found in the constellation Taurus. A good time to look is just before midnight when the Bull is climbing high in the southern sky. http://spaceweather.com/ http://spaceweather.com/archive.php?v... Clear Skies Everyone! Although the approach will be a distant 7.1 million miles (11.4 million kilometers, or 30 lunar distances) from Earth, it's still a fairly rare opportunity. "This will be the closest comet Wirtanen has come to Earth for centuries and the closest it will come to Earth for centuries," said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. What's more, Chodas said, "This could be one of the brightest comets in years, offering astronomers an important opportunity to study a comet up close with ground-based telescopes, both optical and radar." NASA-sponsored ground, air and space-based observatories getting in on the action include NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar in California; the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility on Maunakea, Hawaii; the Hubble, Chandra, Swift and Spitzer space telescopes; and an airborne observatory known as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The comet will even pass through the observing field of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/see-... http://wirtanen.astro.umd.edu/46P/46P... http://wirtanen.astro.umd.edu/46P/46P... http://wirtanen.astro.umd.edu/46P/46P...