Comet 46P/Wirtanen will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.05 AU.
|12 Dec 2018||–||46P/Wirtanen at perihelion|
|15 Dec 2018||–||46P/Wirtanen reaches its brightest|
|15 Dec 2018||–||46P/Wirtanen at perigee|
|21 Nov 2018||Fornax||Visible from 20:46 until 00:35|
Highest at 22:41, 21° above S horizon
|23 Nov 2018||Fornax||Visible from 20:25 until 00:50|
Highest at 22:37, 23° above S horizon
|25 Nov 2018||Fornax||Visible from 20:06 until 01:06|
Highest at 22:36, 24° above S horizon
|27 Nov 2018||Fornax||Visible from 19:43 until 01:20|
Highest at 22:32, 26° above S horizon
|29 Nov 2018||Eridanus||Visible from 19:26 until 01:41|
Highest at 22:33, 29° above S horizon
|01 Dec 2018||Eridanus||Visible from 19:06 until 02:01|
Highest at 22:34, 32° above S horizon
|03 Dec 2018||Eridanus||Visible from 18:44 until 02:21|
Highest at 22:33, 36° above S horizon
|05 Dec 2018||Eridanus||Visible from 18:28 until 02:49|
Highest at 22:39, 40° above S horizon
|07 Dec 2018||Eridanus||Visible from 18:10 until 03:19|
Highest at 22:45, 46° above S horizon
|09 Dec 2018||Taurus||Visible from 17:51 until 03:50|
Highest at 22:51, 52° above S horizon
|11 Dec 2018||Taurus||Visible from 17:32 until 04:23|
Highest at 22:57, 60° above S horizon
|13 Dec 2018||Taurus||Visible from 17:32 until 05:02|
Highest at 23:10, 68° above S horizon
|15 Dec 2018||Taurus||Visible from 17:30 until 05:46|
Highest at 23:27, 76° above S horizon
|17 Dec 2018||Auriga||Visible from 17:32 until 06:28|
Highest at 23:42, 84° above S horizon
|19 Dec 2018||Auriga||Visible from 17:37 until 06:37|
Highest at 00:08, 89° above N horizon
|21 Dec 2018||Auriga||Visible from 17:39 until 06:39|
Highest at 00:29, 84° above N horizon
|23 Dec 2018||Auriga||Visible from 17:41 until 06:37|
Highest at 00:46, 80° above N horizon
|25 Dec 2018||Lynx||Visible from 17:47 until 06:35|
Highest at 01:09, 77° above N horizon
|27 Dec 2018||Lynx||Visible from 17:52 until 06:32|
Highest at 01:24, 74° above N horizon
|29 Dec 2018||Lynx||Visible from 17:54 until 06:30|
Highest at 01:42, 73° above N horizon
|31 Dec 2018||Lynx||Visible from 18:00 until 06:28|
Highest at 01:54, 72° above N horizon
At the moment of perihelion it will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible around 17:55 (EST), 19° above your eastern horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 22:47, 60° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 03:53, when it sinks below 16° above your western horizon.
The chart below shows the path of 46P/Wirtanen over the course of its apparition, as calculated from the orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC). It is available for download, either on dark background, in PNG, PDF or SVG formats, or on a light background, in PNG, PDF or SVG formats. It was produced using StarCharter.
Comets are intrinsically highly unpredictable objects, since their brightness depends on the scattering of sunlight from dust particles in the comet's coma and tail. This dust is continually streaming away from the comet's nucleus, and its density at any particular time is governed by the rate of sublimation of the ice in the comet's nucleus, as it is heated by the Sun's rays. It also depends on the amount of dust that is mixed in with that ice. This is very difficult to predict in advance, and can be highly variable even between successive apparitions of the same comet.
In consequence, while the future positions of comets are usually known with a high degree of confidence, their future brightnesses are not. For most comets, we do not publish any magnitude estimates at all. For the few comets where we do make estimates, we generally prefer the BAA's magnitude parameters to those published by the Minor Planet Center, since they are typically updated more often.
No estimate for the brightness of comet 46P/Wirtanen is currently available.
The comet's position at perihelion will be:
The coordinates are given in J2000.0.
|The sky on 12 December 2018|
5 days old
All times shown in EST.
This event was automatically generated on the basis of orbital elements published by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) , and is updated whenever new elements become available. It was last updated on 27 Jul 2021.
© Andy Roberts 1997. Pictured comet is C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp.