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Astro Bob

Sayonara, Comet Wirtanen! / Stars, Planets, Moon Parade At Dawn

30 Dec 2018, 16:11 UTC
Sayonara, Comet Wirtanen! / Stars, Planets, Moon Parade At Dawn
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Comet 46P/Wirtanen slows down and fades as it travels from Lynx to the Big Dipper in the next couple weeks. I’ve marked the comet’s position at 5-day intervals. You can interpolate between the marks for other days. Stars are shown to magnitude 6. Start at Capella and use it and other nearby stars like Delta Aurigae, 2 Lyncis and 15 Lyncis to help you point your binoculars toward the comet. Stellarium with additions by the author
As we come to the end of December, comet 46P/Wirtanen is fading. Comets can be unpredictable , but this one came pretty close to expectations, missing its brightness prediction by just one magnitude. Instead of an easy magnitude 3 (one level below the Big Dipper stars), it reached a dimmer magnitude 4. If you lived in or near a large city, 46P proved challenging. But from outer suburbs, it was visible in binoculars and from dark skies, you could easily spot it with the naked eye. I saw it routinely many nights because — incredibly — we had a week of clear weather when the comet was at its best at mid-month.
A recent photo of the comet from Dec. 26 — still a ...

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