The Hudson Valley Will See the Brightest Comet of the Year Soon
Skywatchers will be in for an early Christmas gift this year.
46P/Wirtanen will make it's annual five and a half year swing around the Sun and should be visible with a telescope or binoculars by the weekend. Dubbed the "Christmas Comet", the object will make its closest pass by Earth in 70 years, according to Science Alert. The small, normally unspectacular comet will be 2018's brightest comet.
You can track the comet's progress HERE.
According to the University of Maryland Comet Wirtanen Observing Campaign. the Christmas Comet will be visible "most of the night around close approach" in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Like all comets, it will grow brighter as it approaches the Sun, and is said to glow with a greenish hue. The Sun will vaporize parts of the comet as it gets closer, while the escaping dust and debris will form a tail millions of miles long into space. However, Science Alert says the comet's tail will be pointing away from Earth up[on approach so we may not get much of a look.
46P/Wirtanen should reach its viewing peak Saturday through Sunday.
The one thing that is still uncertain here in the Hudson Valley will be the weather. The National Weather service is forecasting rain Saturday, with mostly cloudy skies by Saturday night. Of course, a lot could change by this weekend, so keep an eye on the sky.
This will be quite the week for astronomy fans, as one of the year's best meteor showers; the Geminids are expected to peek Thursday and Friday.