Comet zooming by Earth will be visible Sunday night

Comet zooming by Earth will be visible Sunday night

Those who live in areas with low levels of light pollution will most likely to be able to see the comet with the naked eye.

Though Comet 46P/Wirtanen - the so-called Christmas comet - is not yet obvious to the naked eye in most places, it may already be visible under a clear sky located far from city lights. If you're anxious about risky comets striking Earth, however, breathe easy: Wirtanen is not on the list of those that astronomers worry about.

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.

In contrast, the space agency said the most well-known of the comets, the one named after Sir Edmund Halley, won't return until July 2061.

Led by University of Maryland astronomers, the campaign has worldwide participation across the professional and amateur astronomical communities.

You'll need to look closely, but this is rare opportunity so it's worth trying to spot it!

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Comet 46P Wirtanen is gracing our skies, in the late fall on 2018 and into the early winter of 2019.

Astronomer Carl Wirtanen discovered the comet in 1948 at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton in Santa Clara County, California. The following night, the comet will visit the Pleiades in the night sky.

Though it measures just three-fourths of a mile across, the Christmas comet will put on quite a show this time around. He will be researching what ices make up the comet and how chemical processes change the gas around it.

NASA is pulling out all the stops for the comet's close flyby. "The comet will even pass through the observing field of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)". Your chances increase if you look when the comet is higher in the sky. Because passing by Jupiter perturbs the comet, astronomers know that its trajectory has changed over the years; specifically, Wirtanen had two close brushes with Jupiter, in April 1972 and February 1984, that moved the comet's orbit 50 million miles (80.5 million kilometers) closer to the sun, as well as closer to Earth's orbit, Rao said in his article.

Cooper said every now and then a comet brightened up to this magnitude, but often they had to be viewed by telescope. But the atmosphere around the comet, or coma, is bigger than Jupiter.

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