Home > Comet, Ephemeris Program > 12/14/2018 – Ephemeris – Bright Comet Wirtanen will be easy to find this weekend

12/14/2018 – Ephemeris – Bright Comet Wirtanen will be easy to find this weekend

December 14, 2018

Ephemeris for Friday, December 14th. The Sun will rise at 8:12. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:02. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 12:06 tomorrow morning.

This weekend is the best time to spot Comet Wirtanen. Not only is near its brightest, but it will be passing just to the left of the beautiful star cluster the Pleiades from below. Comet Wirtanen will appear as a fuzzy spot, possibly to the naked eye, but is best seen in binoculars. The near first quarter Moon will be a bother, and make the comet harder to spot. On the 12th the comet passed its closest to the Sun, called perihelion, about 4.6 million miles outside the Earth’s orbit. On the 16th, Sunday, it will pass closest to the Earth at 7.2 million miles, as the 10th closest comet passage in modern times. Wirtanen is a member of the Jupiter family of comets captured by and orbit maintained by the planet Jupiter.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Comet 46P/Wirtanen positions for the next week. Positions are marked with month-date and magnitude. The latest magnitude prediction for December 15th is 3.3, 5.5 magnitudes brighter than shown here. Star field position is for 9 p.m. on the 12th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

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