Amazing Photos: Brilliant Comet 46P/Wirtanen Wows Stargazers

A Diffuse Speck in the Sky

Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project

Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project captured the subtle glow of Comet 46P/Wirtanen on Dec. 5, 2018 using a Canon 5DmIV DSLR camera and a 70mm-f/2.8 lens.

A Green 'Star'

Alan Dyer/

Photographer Alan Dyer captured this image of the bright green Comet Wirtanen from rural Alberta on Dec. 3, 2018. At magnitude 5.0, it was barely visible to the naked eye but easier to see with binoculars. Dyer captured this image using a 35mm lens at f/2 on a Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR camera and a Star Adventurer Mini tracker. The final image is a stack of six 30-second exposures.

A Brisk Atmosphere

Chris Schur/

On a cool night in Payson, Arizona, on Nov. 9, 2018, astrophotographer Chris Schur captured Comet 46P/Wirtanen shining at magnitude 7.2, or just barely too faint to see with the naked eye. "On this night, thick layers of fire smoke from California in the sky made shooting anything challenging," Schur wrote on his website. "A few background galaxies in this field in Fornax can be seen here."

A Distant Comet

Courtesy of Mike Olason

Comet 46P/Wirtanen appears as a speck in this telescope image captured by Mike Olason in Denver on Aug. 11, 2018, at 1:13 a.m. local time (3:13 a.m. EDT, 0913 GMT).

Whereto See Comet 46P

SkySafari App

Comet 46P/Wirtanen will be closest to Earth on Dec. 16, 2018. Look for it above the eastern horizon after dusk all month long! It will be bright enough to see with the naked eye, and will look even more spectacular with binoculars and telescopes.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.