Christmas Comet pays visit: How to watch it

Christmas Comet pays visit: How to watch it

46P/Wirtanen a.k.a. the Christmas Comet. Screen Grab

The 46P/Wirtanen a.k.a. the Christmas Comet, photographically discovered on Jan. 17, 1948 by Carl A Wirtanen, will be the brightest comet of the year. The comet is already visible and you can get the best views through binoculars; it will be brightest between Dec. 14 and Dec. 18. 

According to NASA, the comet will be closest to Earth on Dec. 16 at a distance of 11.5 million kilometres, which is 30 times the distance to the moon. It is the 10th closest comet encounter in the past 70 years. 

The tricky part will be to spot the comet as it keeps shifting its position each night and requires the viewers to use the stars as a guide. By Dec. 16, the comet will be between the red star Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster. 

Astro-photographer Dylan O'Donnell has captured a series of photographs and videos of the of the 46P/Wirtanen. He says that the Christmas Comet photograph can be captured through a standard DSLR with a 15-second exposure and setting the ISO to 1600 or 3200.
Dylan O'Donnell capturing the Christmas Comet:

How to catch the comet! -Dylan O'Donnell: 

The next approach of the comet will be in 2024 as it swings around the sun approximately every 5.4 years. It will, however, not be this close for another 20 years. 
The Germinids meteor shower is another highlight of the meteor year and peaks around the wee hours of Dec. 13 and 14. Most meteor showers are caused by dust and debris left over from passing comets but the parent body of this shower is the 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid. 

It is best viewed from the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere but is visible from the Southern Hemisphere as well. It is best to catch a glimpse of it between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.

Where to see the Comet

The comet will be visible in the Orion constellation, according to Brad Tucker at the Australian National University Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. To see the comet clearly, you will have to be in an area of minimal light pollution. If it's visible, it will appear as a fuzzy green ball.

If, however, you are not able to see it clearly, you can tune into the Virtual Telescope Project, which will be live-streaming the comet's flyby. The stream starts at 2200 UTC (3:30 AM Indian Time).

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