The night sky will come to life this weekend when a green comet passes by the Earth alongside the green fireballs of the Geminid meteor shower.
Comet 46P / Wirtanen began brightening in November, but will approach Earth closest to Earth on Sunday and be visible to the naked eye. The comet will be within 7 million miles of the Earth ̵
The comet should be the brightest on December 16, as bright as the star in the constellation of Little Dipper's grip, according to NASA. But even now he is the brightest comet in the night sky and the brightest of 2018. He may even be visible to the naked eye.
The University of Maryland's Department of Astronomy said that Comet 46P will be the 10th closest comet in 1950 because only a few comets are bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.
The "Christmas Comet" appears in our sky every five years as it circles the sun. It was closest to the sun on December 12th. The comet was named after the man who had first seen him in 1948, Carl Wirtanen, senior observational assistant at the California Lick Observatory.
"Take a small pair of binoculars or a telescope to see the green blurred comet with a small pair, and it will be near the constellation of Orion or the cooking pot," said Brad Tucker of the Australian National University Research School for astronomy and astrophysics.
Similar to a meteor shower You want to be in an area without much light pollution. Look at any time between dusk and sunrise.
Check TimeandDate.com to find the best time in your part of the world.
If you can not see it, the Virtual Telescope Project will do stream observations from its robotic telescopes.
Why does the comet look fuzzy or ghostly? It's three-quarters of a mile wide with a core that's less than a mile wide. But the atmosphere around the comet or coma is bigger than Jupiter. When it passes the sun, this icy comet essentially experiences some melt. This creates the green glowing cloud.
Due to the diffuse nature of the coma and its annealing, vision may be more difficult, especially with binoculars or telescopes. Astronomers have predicted that the comet will have a magnitude of 4.2, which means that most likely a dark, clear sky and a lack of ambient light are needed to see it.
And unlike other cometary visions, the tail of this comet will be behind it. If it passes, it means that we most likely will not see it until the tail develops a curve before its next approach to Earth.
The Comet 46P was originally selected by the European Space Agency to land the Rosetta probe on its surface, but start delays resulted in a new target being selected. (Rosetta landed on the Comet 67P in 2014)
"Wirtanen's comet could easily be selected for another mission," said Jim Lattis, director of the University of Wisconsin's Astronomy Outreach Center, UW Space Place. "So that means watching this comet every time it gets closer could be important."
Similar to the OSIRIS REx mission to study the asteroid Bennu, a remnant of the early solar system, Comet 46P could provide similar insights. [19659004"WirbekommeneinenBlickaufDingediewährendderEntstehungdesSonnensystemsentstandensindundseitdemimTiefkühlbereichsind"sagteLattis"WenndieseDingeeintretenundwireineChancehabensiezustudierensehenwireinigederRohstoffeausdenensichdieErdeunddieanderenPlanetenundallesanderegebildethaben"