Brightest Comet of Year to Pass the Closest to Earth This Week

Brightest Comet of Year to Pass the Closest to Earth this Week

Science

The comet named 46P/Wirtanen will pass Earth in this week on Dec. 16. Its orbital period is 5.4 years. After the 1950s, this will be the first comet pass the closest to Earth and will be visible to the naked eyes. The sky-gazers have this exciting news this season. Comet 46P is said to be hyperactive as it is getting nearer to Earth with speed. As recorded till now, it is the 10th closest comet to be known by Earth. It was discovered in 1948 by Carl Wirtanen at California’s Lick Observatory.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen will also be the brighte

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st comet after C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) seen in April 2013. As per the reports, it will appear larger in the skies of Earth. After passing from Earth, it will pass between the star clusters, Pleiades and Hyades. Comets are nothing but loosely bound masses of dust, ice and rocks. Its central core extends up to a few miles. The Comets have tails which are formed due to the gases formed in the comet and the dust inside it. The gases are formed because the comets heat up while nearing the sun. As per the NASA reports, currently, there are 3,535 comets known to us.

Comet 46P will most probably not have a long tail because its size is quite small. At present, it looks like a small bluish object. Its diameter is 0.68 miles i.e. one-tenth the size of Halley’s Comet. Halley’s Comet is the most popular comet having an orbital period of 75 years. The comet will be around 7.2 million miles from the earth which is almost 30 times the distance between Moon and Earth. The comet will be passing near the constellation Orion in the Southern Sky. Though the sky-gazers can have a view of the comet with the naked eye, yet, having its glimpse with a telescope or binoculars will be the best way. On Dec. 16, comet 46P will be closest to Earth and will be visible at 8:06 a.m.

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