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46P/Wirtanen reaches its brightest

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Comet 46P/Wirtanen is forecast to reach its brightest. It will lie at a distance of 1.05 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 0.07 AU from the Earth.

From Minneapolis, it will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible around 17:48 (CST) as the dusk sky fades, 27° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 22:37, 67° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 04:27, when it sinks below 18° above your western horizon.

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Based on the absolute magnitude published for this comet by the British Astronomical Association's Comet Section, we estimate that it may reach a peak brightness of around mag 4.

The brightnesses of comets are often highly unpredictable, since it is impossible to predict with certainty how they will respond as they are heated by the Sun as they move into the inner solar system. Magnitude estimates should be assumed to be highly provisional more than a few weeks in advance.

The path of the comet, on the other hand, can reliably be predicted. The chart below shows the path of 46P/Wirtanen over the course of its apparition. It was produced using StarCharter and 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.

Alternatively, you can create a textual listing of the comet's position using's ephemeris generator.

The position of comet 46P/Wirtanen at its brightest will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude
Comet 46P/Wirtanen 04h05m50s +22°42' Taurus 4.1

The coordinates are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 16 December 2018
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

9-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


9 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:55 10:39 15:24
Venus 03:49 09:04 14:20
Moon 13:22 19:25 00:27
Mars 12:10 17:55 23:39
Jupiter 06:26 10:59 15:32
Saturn 08:47 13:13 17:38
All times shown in CST.


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 12 Dec 2019.

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