Christmas Comet Comes Close to Earth; December 2018 celestial event not to be missed.
The Christmas Comet can be seen in the night sky over the coming days, set to delight millions around the world.
Dubbed ‘The Christmas Comet’ by media, Comet 46P Wirtanen will blaze across the sky over several days, with it’s closest distance to Earth on December 16.
The Christmas comet will come within 12 million kilometres from Earth on that day, providing gazers with potentially a rare opportunity to see the heavenly body with the naked eye.
The Christmas comet will also coincide with the annual Geminids Christmas Meteor Shower.
Officially discovered in 1948, the Christmas Comet pass will be one of the closest passes of a comet from Earth in over 70-years.
46P/Wirtanen has both professional and amateur astronomers around the world excited. The comet should be visible to anyone in the north-eastern sky from about an hour and a half after sunset until early morning.
According to Space.com, the Christmas Comet of December 16, 2018, will be one of the closest comet approaches to Earth in recorded history.
In fact, this pass will be the 20th closest approach of a comet to Earth in the last 1,100 years.
About 9.06pm in Perth on that date, less than four days after making its closest approach to the sun, 46P/Wirtanen will pass very close to the Earth — exactly 11,586,350 kms away.
However, astronomical experts warm the Christmas Comet may not be as big and bright as one might hope, with the size of the comet and the behaviour of the tail means the comet will “look like a fuzzy and diffuse ball of light, which may be quite difficult to see against the backdrop of a light-polluted sky.”
The full moon will also restrict visibility.
At its brightest it will be about the equivalent of the two dimmest stars in the Southern Cross.
People are encouraged to from city lights for the best viewing opportunity. Viewing with binoculars and telescopes will also provide the best look.
“The darker your sky, the better. And certainly, binoculars or a telescope will enhance your view. Around the time when it is passing closest to Earth, the comet’s head will likely swell in apparent size to more than double the size of the moon,” Space.com says.
Video: NASA preview of the Christmas Comet as well as other December celestial sights.