‘Brightest Comet’ set to pass by Earth on Sunday

Comet zooming by Earth will be visible this weekend

‘Brightest Comet’ set to pass by Earth on Sunday

You'll be able to watch it zoom past online and could even see the object in the sky with the naked eye if you're lucky and the weather is good enough. From suburban skies, binoculars will reveal it as a fuzzy, green-blue object distinct from the pinpoint appearance of the background stars.

If you're up to a challenge, there's comet to be seen the next clear, reasonably dark night.

The comet Wirtanen will make its closet approach to Earth in centuries this weekend, being 7.1 million miles away on Sunday.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen now resides among the background stars of Taurus the Bull, between the magnificent Pleiades star cluster (M45) and the 1st-magnitude star Aldebaran. The campaign predicts excellent observation conditions and said the comet should be visible "most of the night around close approach" in the northern and southern hemispheres.

You'll need to look closely, but this is rare opportunity so it's worth trying to spot it!

Wirtanen's unusual composition (it includes methane and carbon), as well as its close orbit to the sun, made it the original target for the European Space Agency Rosetta mission.

46P/Wirtanen was discovered on January 17, 1948, by the American astronomer Carl Wirtanen.

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"We have dubbed Comet Wirtanen "the Christmas Comet of 2018" for this reason".

When we think of a comet we may picture a bright spectacle with a long tail stretching across the heavens, something to make even someone who never gives the night sky a passing glance, reason to look up and point.

Cooper said the nucleus of the comet, which passed about every seven years, is only a few kilometres wide, but the halo is hundreds of thousands of kilometres.

NASA is pulling out all the stops for the comet's close flyby.

NASA-sponsored ground, air and space-based observatories getting in on the action include NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar in California; the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility on Maunakea, Hawaii; the Hubble, Chandra, Swift and Spitzer space telescopes; and an airborne observatory known as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

One negative, however, is that we'll have a moon in that part of the sky - that'll make it tougher to see. That means it never goes farther from the sun than Jupiter.

With these, the comet was a fairly large patch, brighter towards the middle; no trace of a tail could be seen. But the atmosphere around the comet, or coma, is bigger than Jupiter.

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