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TechnologyBrightest comet of the year will zoom near Earth next week

06:55  05 december  2018
06:55  05 december  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

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This year ’s brightest comet will fly across the night sky next week , dazzling stargazers across the world. The comet named “46P/Wirtanen” is about The comet 's brightness may be great enough for people to see it with their naked eyes. This would make it the brightest comet of the past few years .

Brightest comet of 2018 to make an appearance in mid-December. The comet 46P/Wirtanen was one of three comets discovered by Carl Wirtanen in 1948 at the Lick Observatory in California. This orbit will be one of the closest comet orbits to Earth since the 1950s, according to Space.com.

Brightest comet of the year will zoom near Earth next week© Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc.

Skywatchers will get a special treat next week as the year’s brightest comet flies across the night sky.

Though the comet has the rather uninspiring name of "46P/Wirtanen," it will be among the 10 closest comet approaches to Earth since 1950 and the 20th-closest approach of a comet dating as far back as the ninth century, according to Sky & Telescope.

Wirtanen’s closest approach to the sun will be Wednesday, Dec. 12, and its closest approach to Earth will be Sunday, Dec. 16, EarthSky said. On that day, the comet will be "only" 7.1 million miles from Earth, which is rather close in cosmic terms. (The sun, for instance, is about 93 million miles away.)

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This year 's brightest comet will fly across the night sky this week , dazzling stargazers across the world. The comet will zoom past another astronomical marvel, the Pleiades star cluster. And it will occur during the annual Geminid meteor shower, giving stargazers even more to look at.

This year 's brightest comet will fly across the night sky this week , dazzling stargazers across the world. The comet named "46P/Wirtanen" is about to pass relatively close to Earth – a mere 7.2 million miles away. To earthlings, that might sound like an extremely long distance

The comet should be visible with the naked eye, but the best views will probably be through binoculars and small telescopes, especially away from city lights. "Be sure to seek out dark skies in your quest for Comet 46P Wirtanen," said David Dickenson of Universe Today.

One nuisance will be brightness from the increasingly full moon next week.

The comet and its coma (the fuzzy-looking area around the comet) will be rather large – two to three times the diameter of the moon, Sky & Telescope reported.

"Remember, you’re not looking for a sharp star-like object but rather something which is spreading its light out over a relatively large area," said Sky & Telescope's Joe Rao.

Brightest comet of the year will zoom near Earth next week© Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc.

At a diameter of about 3/4 of a mile, the comet is relatively small. It'll zoom along at more than 21,000 mph.

Brightest comet of 2018 to make an appearance in mid-December

Brightest comet of 2018 to make an appearance in mid-December The comet 46P/Wirtanen was one of three comets discovered by Carl Wirtanen in 1948 at the Lick Observatory in California. This orbit will be one of the closest comet orbits to Earth since the 1950s, according to Space.com. Comets are "loosely bound masses of ice, dust and rock." The central core of the structure is often only a few miles across. These cosmic phenoms usually have tails that are a result of the dust and gases that are spewed when comets heat up as they near the sun. Currently, NASA reports that there are 3,535 known comets.

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More: Brightest comet of the year will zoom near Earth this week . To increase the chances of seeing meteors, choose a The best viewing weather on Thursday night is expected across the central U.S., while the eastern half of the country and the Northwest will see mostly cloudy skies, AccuWeather said.

Since the comet will remain within 10 million miles of Earth for several weeks, NASA scientists will get an extended chance to study it. NASA researcher Michael DiSanti said the comet's flyby will allow detailed studies of what it's made of as more of the comet’s nucleus becomes exposed to sunlight.

Brightest comet of the year will zoom near Earth next week© Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc.

According to Universe Today, U.S. astronomer Carl Wirtanen first spied the comet on the night of Jan. 17, 1948, while surveying the sky from the Lick Observatory in California. Because he discovered it, the comet bears his name.

One extra bit of good news: There is "no chance of the comet hitting Earth," the University of Maryland's astronomy department reported.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Brightest comet of the year will zoom near Earth next week

'Pizzagate' restaurant survives arson attempt.
Investigators say the suspect is a "white male, 25 - 30 years old, with blonde hair, mustache and a beard" saying that the man was "wanted for questioning." According to the Washington Post, an unidentified patron set fire to a curtain in the back of Comet Ping Pong on Thursday evening. The fire was extinguished by staffers and no one was injured. Because investigators found burned matches and a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid, investigators made the "unanimous" decision that the fire was caused by arson, according to the Post's reporting.

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