Drier Air Returns In Time For The ‘Christmas’ Comet Sunday!

Drier Air Returns In Time For The ‘Christmas’ Comet Sunday!

"The fuzziness is just because it's a ball of gas basically", Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the astronomy department at the University of Maryland, said Saturday morning after a long night studying the comet at the Discovery Channel Telescope, about 40 miles southeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. The comet's closest approach to Earth will come on Sunday (Dec. 16).

Comet Wirtanen has already been visible in larger amateur telescopes, and there is the possibility that, during its closest approach this weekend, comet Wirtanen could be visible with binoculars or to the naked eye. And while you will be able to see a bit of green in the night sky, it will still look better under magnification.

And unlike other comet sightings, this comet's tail will be behind it when it passes, meaning we most likely won't see it unless the tail develops a curve before its closest approach to Earth.

Hundreds of meteors and a "Christmas Comet" are expected to continue lighting up the night sky during the Geminid meteor shower.

This picture taken from Paris region with a telescope on December 3, 2018 shows the 46P/Wirtanen comet as it will come closer to Earth on December 16, 2018. To get the best view it is better to wait for the moon to set so the comet stands out against a dark background. The comet will look like a "fuzzy ball" in the Taurus constellation. Its 5.5-year orbit stretches out as far as Jupiter. The Virtual Telescope Project will stream the comet's passing. Wirtanen stands out among comets because its surface contains a lot of methane and carbon, as well as the usual water ice.

Meteor shower and comet to light up seasonal skies

In that time, the comet will have gradually moved towards the northern sky.

Astronomer Carl Wirtanen discovered the comet in 1948 at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton in Santa Clara County, California. In the Deep Impact mission, NASA launched a space probe in 2005 to study the interior of a comet by releasing an impactor that collided with the comet's nucleus to emit material from below its surface. "This could be one of the brightest comets in years, offering astronomers an important opportunity to study a comet up close with ground-based telescopes, both optical and radar".

The comet will even pass through the observing field of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), Nasa said.

If the weather cooperates, Hillsboro High School science teacher Shannon Yochum said that seeing the comet shouldn't be too hard if one can locate two familiar objects in the night sky; the constellation Orion and the Pleiades star cluster, which itself resembles a fuzzy patch of light.

More news: Suns to have Ariza away from team Saturday after trade falls apart

Related Articles