Hyperactive Comet Approaches Earth

Posted: December 5, 2018 by oldbrew in Astronomy, News, solar system dynamics

It has been billed as The Comet of The Year.


Nov. 26, 2018: Small but hyperactive Comet 46P/Wirtanen is approaching Earth and could soon become visible to the naked eye. On Dec. 16th, the kilometer-wide ball of dirty ice will be less than 11.5 million km away–making it one of the 10 closest-approaching comets of the Space Age. It already looks magnificent through amateur telescopes. On Nov. 26th, Gerald Rhemann took this picture using a 12-inch reflector in Farm Tivoli, Namibia:

“The comet is currently gliding through the southern constellation Fornax,” says Rhemann. “If you look carefully at the image, you can see galaxy NGC 922 near the comet’s head, and another galaxy ESO 479-2 on the left.”

Rhemann says that the comet’s emerald green atmosphere is 50 arcminutes wide. In other words–almost twice as wide as a full Moon. Its apparent diameter could double in the weeks ahead as the comet comes even closer. Because Wirtanen’s brightness is spread…

View original post 168 more words

  1. oldbrew says:

    46P/Wirtanen was the original destination of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft mission, but launch delays meant that the comet was no longer easily reachable and another periodic comet, 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, was chosen as the mission’s target instead.


  2. A C Osborn says:

    They could have just waited for it to come to us LOL.

  3. oldbrew says:

    AC – yes, once every 5.44 years.
    – – –
    Stats corner: 5 Jupiter-Earth conjunctions = 5.46~ years.

  4. Gamecock says:

    I wonder how much of its water will the earth accrete.

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