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'

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

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

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.

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