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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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A comet zooming past Earth next week on its journey towards the outer solar system may be visible with just a set of binoculars, but Launched in December 2009, NEOWISE is Nasa’s infrared-wavelength astronomical space telescope and acts as the “asteroid-and- comet -hunting” arm of the

The comet ’s orbital period was thought to be 6.8 years up until that point. Giacobini-Zinner’s return in 2018 is a promising one as it passes the Earth at a The comet will remain well placed in the evening skies for the remainder of the year and on in to 2019 when it becomes almost circumpolar in the

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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Comet Halley is probably the brightest that will be visible in this century, it will return in 2061 and should be around magnitude -0.3 at its brightest , compared with its Note that after Comet West in 1976, the next bright comet visible in my part of the world was 20 years later, Hyakutake in 1996.

From Comet West, fast forward a full 31 years to 2007 and the next truly Great Comet (sidestepping Hale-Bopp). Northerners could only watch these two comets from a distance, through the wizardry of the digital age. Or they could hitch a costly ride to place themselves under the southern skies.

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.

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PLANET Earth will experience a very close encounter with a space rock the size of a HOUSE on The asteroid will zoom past at a distance of about 27,300 miles, which is an eighth of the distance from Scientists expected the asteroid to return for a near - Earth rendezvous this year but did not appreciate

Forget the New Year 's Eve fireworks, NASA has announced that a comet currently zooming through the inner Solar System will be so bright over the next week The comet was first detected by NASA's NEOWISE mission in October, and its trajectory is currently taking it on a safe pass by Earth as it

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

The year's brightest comet streaks by Earth this weekend.
The night sky will come alive this weekend when a green comet streaks by Earth on the heels of the Geminid meteor shower's display of green fireballs. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); Comet 46P/Wirtanen began brightening in November, but it will make its closest approach to Earth on Sunday and be visible with the naked eye. The comet will come within 7 million miles of Earth -- a proximity that won't happen again for 20 years. That's 30 times the moon's distance from us.

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