Comet 46P/Wirtanen will make its closest approach to the Sun on 19 May, at a distance of 1.05 AU.
The events that comprise the 2024 apparition of 46P/Wirtanen are as follows:
|19 May 2024||Comet 46P/Wirtanen passes perihelion|
The table below lists the times when 46P/Wirtanen will be visible from Ashburn day-by-day through its apparition:
|28 Apr 2024||Aries||Not observable|
|30 Apr 2024||Aries||Not observable|
|02 May 2024||Aries||Not observable|
|04 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|06 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|08 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|10 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|12 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|14 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|16 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|18 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|20 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|22 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|24 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|26 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|28 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|30 May 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|01 Jun 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|03 Jun 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|05 Jun 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
|07 Jun 2024||Taurus||Not observable|
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 For most comets, we do not publish any magnitude estimates at all.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.
Based on the magnitude parameters published for this comet by the BAA Comet Section, we estimate that it may be around mag 10 on 19 May 2024. This estimate is based on observations that the BAA has received from amateur astronomers, assuming that its current level of activity will remain constant.
You will probably require a telescope to see this comet. It is unlikely to be visible through bird-watching binoculars, and even less likely to be visible to the unaided eye.
The comet's position at perihelion will be:
The coordinates are given in J2000.0.
The sky on 19 May 2024
|The sky on 19 May 2024|
11 days old
All times shown in EDT.
Never attempt to point a pair of binoculars or a telescope at an object close to the Sun. Doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness.
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 19 Aug 2023.
© Andy Roberts 1997. Pictured comet is C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp.