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Comet 46P/Wirtanen visiting for Christmas - Track live*!

About 2,000 years ago, a star appeared in the sky announcing the birth of baby Jesus. This year we'll have our own Christmas Comet visiting. You might be able to see it with your own eyes, but certainly if you have binoculars of a telescope.

Where is 46P/Wirtanen right now?

it's currently 36 (22) from us. On December 16th, 2018 it made it's closest approach to Earth. Travelling at a speed of 117,862 (73,236) relative to us, it is getting 0.1 closer to us every second that passes.

The tail-wagging asteroid was discovered in 1948 by the American astronomer Wirtanen. It size is estimated at about 1.2 km (4,000 ft) across. Due to the influence of the Earth's magnetic field the tail unfortunately often points away from Earth, meaning it is hidden behind the space rock.

Christmas Comet 46P Wirtanen Dec 2018 46P Wirtanen

Comet gazing at Asteroid 46P/Wirtanen

If you like to go star gazing or comet watching, this Time and Date website has a handy tool to find 46P/Wirtanen in the sky.

Since midnight last night the Christmas Comet got 531,068 km (331,917 mi) closer to us. Since you started looking at this page it got 0 km (0 mi) closer to us.

Relative to the sun the asteroid blasts through space at a speed of 531,068 km (331,917 mi) and in it's orbit it is going 1,234 slower every day.

This asteroid was selected as target for the Rosetta mission by the European Space Agency. However a failed rocket launch caused delays after which it ended up missing its launch window. A different target was chosen for that space mission.

Data from NASA JPL HORIZONS database for solar system objects.

Photo Credit and other: Steve Pauken, @ZTF Survey (permission granted under CC-BY-2.0)
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Data provided by NASA/JPL CNEOS

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