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Comet 46P/Wirtanen


Wirtanen 09Aug18.png

Comet 46P/Wirtanen will pass very close to Earth next December. Its maximum approximation is calculated at 0.0775 U.A. on December 16 reaching a magnitude 3.5, which indicates that it can be seen with the naked eye.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen is a short-period comet with an orbital period of 5.4 years. The comet is relatively small in size with an estimated diameter of just 1.2 kilometres. The object was the original target for ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft but the launch window was missed so 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko was Rosetta's target in the end.


Cometa Wirtanen2018.jpg The observing conditions will be excellent because of it will be near opposition at close approach.

  • Maximum approximation: 16th December at 0.0775 U.A
  • Magnitude 3.5 - Visible with the naked eye.
  • Positioned between the Pleiades and Hayades clusters

46P/Wirtanen will be visible most of the night around close approach (North and South hemispheres) and it will be visible for many hours for months before and after close approach.

Although this is the 10th closest comet in modern times ( Ranking), the great knowledge of its orbit indicates that there is no chance of the comet hitting Earth.


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