Christmas Comet will light up the sky on Sunday

18 December, 2018, 16:39 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Periodic comet 46P  Wirtanen is passing close to Earth

Although the brightest comet of 2018, and just visible to the naked eye, Wirtanen's comet will be seen best in dark skies through binoculars, says Jim Lattis, director of UW Space Place, the University of Wisconsin-Madison astronomy outreach center.

However, predicting a comet's brightness is much more hard than forecasting the weather. It is bright enough to be seen without a telescope or binoculars, though using those would make it look even better. Although the comet known as 46P/Wirtanen will approach at a distant 11.4 million kilometres or 30 lunar distances from Earth, it's still a fairly rare opportunity.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen now resides among the background stars of Taurus the Bull, between the magnificent Pleiades star cluster (M45) and the 1st-magnitude star Aldebaran.

Comet Wirtanen comes closest to Capella on the nights of December 22 and 23, just a few degrees south and east of the star.

According to NASA, comet 46P/Wirtanen is a small short-period comet with a current orbital period of 5.4 years, so it will be back in Highland County's night skies in the spring of 2024.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen began brightening in November, but it will make its closest approach to Earth on Sunday and be visible with the naked eye.

Carl Wirtanen discovered 46P on January 17, 1948, at the Lick Observatory in Mount Hamilton, California.

Directions to spot the 46P  Wirtanen comet passing Earth
SUPPLIEDDirections to spot the 46P Wirtanen comet passing Earth

These constant swings by the sun come with a cost. Also, Wirtanen has a small nucleus.

The core of the comet is bright, but the outer part is faint, so it required a long exposure.

So, the comet will not be that bright in the night sky, but researchers can still perform valuable science as the object flies by Earth, Tucker said.

Astronomical photographer Stephen Chadwick captured the comet last week. He will be researching what ices make up the comet and how chemical processes change the gas around it. While the reason for this composition is poorly understood, scientists know for sure that the water and the methane give Wirtanen its green coloring. The comet appears to be a close twin to comet Hartley 2, the second target of the Deep Impact mission.

You can follow the project, called the Comet Wirtanen Observing Campaign, at its website here: http://wirtanen.astro.umd.edu. Bodewits said the comet should be relatively easy to find for viewers who are in a dark spot. It is a member of the Jupiter family of comets - their farthest point from the sun being near the orbit of Jupiter.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen will be making a close pass of Earth December 16, 2018. But the atmosphere around the comet, or coma, is bigger than Jupiter.

CBS denies $120 million severance payout to former CEO Les Moonves
Les Moonves had been expected to receive up to $120 million as part of a severance package that will now not materialise. He was also one of the highest-paid executives in the US , making about $70m (£55m) a year.

Google creating New York City campus as part of $1 billion expansion
On Thursday, Apple announced that it'll build a new $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, as part of an expansion across the US. After establishing its first NYC offices in 2000, Google now has more than 7,000 employees in the Big Apple.

UEFA Champions League round of 16 draw
Months after leaving Real Madrid , Cristiano Ronaldo will return to the city with Juventus for the first leg against Atletico. Borussia Dortmund progressed to the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League after topping Group A with 10 points.

Recommended:

  • Hector Bellerin: Arsenal defender out for 'some weeks'

    Hector Bellerin: Arsenal defender out for 'some weeks'

    Emery's side play north London rivals Tottenham on Wednesday at the Emirates in the Carabao Cup quarter-final. However, Emery defended the Frenchman and the rest of his makeshift back line.
    Trump says 'big' China deal possible after U.S.  pressure

    Trump says 'big' China deal possible after U.S. pressure

    Automakers do not expect the United States to immediately cut its higher tariffs on Chinese imports in response to China's move. The White House also officially delayed a rise in tariffs on $200 billion of products that had been due on January 1.
    Roy Keane: Manchester United stars aren't good enough

    Roy Keane: Manchester United stars aren't good enough

    Jose Mourinho has described Marcus Rashford as "untouchable" at Manchester United because the forward always plays to his maximum. Liverpool moved back to the top of the Premier League after a thoroughly-deserved 3-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield.
  • Nations agree on guidelines to govern 2015 climate accord

    Nations agree on guidelines to govern 2015 climate accord

    And so the US was represented in the Poland talks and, at one point, made a presentation on the benefits of fossil fuels. Greenhouse gas emissions need to drop by about 60 percent from current levels by 2030 to stay on a 1.5-degree path.
    Mahathir says Australia has 'no right' to divide Jerusalem

    Mahathir says Australia has 'no right' to divide Jerusalem

    Australia's neighbour Indonesia was angered by the embassy move proposal, and said on Saturday it "notes" the decision. There is no division between the east of the city and the west of the city.
    Ajax to face Real Madrid in Champions League last 16

    Ajax to face Real Madrid in Champions League last 16

    The team's mood will be affected by the outcome of 2018's last two league games against Leipzig and Frankfurt. It's a busy period because everyone plays.
  • Parrot uses Alexa to order fruit, kite while owner is away

    Parrot uses Alexa to order fruit, kite while owner is away

    However, it's not only ordering food that Rocco has mastered, but it also uses Amazon Alexa to entertain himself. He now lives with sanctuary worker Marion Wischnewski who reportedly agreed to foster him in her home.
    Schumer says it's up to Trump to avert government shutdown

    Schumer says it's up to Trump to avert government shutdown

    The 16-day full government shutdown in October 2013 cost the economy US$24 billion, according to Standard and Poor's. Even if a shutdown does happen this month, it would likely have a smaller impact than others in recent years.
    Facebook Bug Exposed Unpublished Photos for Up to 6.8 Million Users

    Facebook Bug Exposed Unpublished Photos for Up to 6.8 Million Users

    The bug isn't as damning as some of its other scandals but it's not exactly a good look, either. It said it would notify users whose photos might have been affected.
  • Prime Minister to face vote of no confidence

    Prime Minister to face vote of no confidence

    May needs to win 158 votes from among the 315 Conservative members of Parliament to remain as party leader and prime minister. Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab were seen as the most likely challengers to May though ultimately neither ran against her.
    My hundred irrelevant, says Virat Kohli after India lose Perth Test

    My hundred irrelevant, says Virat Kohli after India lose Perth Test

    When asked if India had made a mistake in not playing a full-time spinner, Lyon replied, "yes!" "I have not seen a better player. To get a win like that against the best test team in the world is going to give them a huge boost of confidence.
    Cong leader Sajjan Kumar gets life sentence in 1984 anti-Sikh riots

    Cong leader Sajjan Kumar gets life sentence in 1984 anti-Sikh riots

    While pronouncing the judgment the court observed, "In the summer of 1947, during Partition, several people were massacred". Congress president Rahul Gandhi has time and again denied the party's involvement in the anti-Sikh riots.


Popular

North Korea warns United States sanctions could derail plans to denuclearise
The editorial also claimed that the sanctions were put into place to punish North Korea for a "non-existent 'human rights issue'". On Monday, the US Treasury Department sanctioned three senior North Korean government officials over alleged human rights abuses.

Manchester United trigger one-year extension to Anthony Martial's contract
José Mourinho had been open to letting an unhappy Martial leave in the summer but chose to open talks over a five-year contract. Yesterday, reports from France quoted Martial's agent, Philippe Lamboley, as saying the club are "far from an agreement".

4400-Year-Old 'One Of A Kind' Tomb Discovered In Egypt
And last month, Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of 100 wooden feline statues and dozens of mummified cats. Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters The country hopes the finds will brighten its image overseas and revive interest among travelers.

Trump Calls Michael Cohen a 'rat'
In April of this year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Cohen's office for documents related to the payments. Charles Krupa/APRudy Giuliani on Thursday said Americans would "revolt" if President Donald Trump is impeached.

Nathan Lyon gets Virat Kohli in second Test In Perth
Here's how the cricket community on Twitter reacted to Australia's series-levelling win ahead of the third Test in Melbourne starting on Boxing Day.

Federal judge in Texas rules ACA is unconstitutional: 8 things to know
Without the individual mandate, Judge Napolitano said, "There's no constitutional basis for it to stand". The White House issued a statement Friday saying the law remains in place during an expected appeal.

Huawei unveils its 48-megapixel Nova 4, complete with hole-punch display
Chinese smartphone maker, Huawei , on Monday launched its new flagship smartphone - Huawei Nova 4 in the home-grown market. It will be powered by the 12-month old 10nm Kirin 970 along with a decent 8GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage.

Newspaper: May, Blair trade Brexit snipes
But, she added, Tuesday's cabinet would discuss "the next phase phase" in no-deal planning, in case her plan was rejected by MPs. But he cautioned against a second referendum, saying it would "continue the uncertainty for many more months".

Hamas chief says ready to meet Palestinian president
His comments came after two soldiers were shot dead on Thursday at a central West Bank bus station near a settlement. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the expedited demolition of militant homes.

Stunning: Geminids Meteor Shower illuminates the night sky
If this is your first rodeo with viewing meteor showers , Cook has some great advice on how to get the best viewing experience. The Doodle on Thursday follows the Geminids' path through Earth's atmosphere as it lights up the sky through a slideshow.