A comet set to make its nearest approach to Earth next week is now the brightest comet in the night sky, casting a green glow overhead that stretches as wide as Jupiter.
Comet 46P/Wirtanen follows 5.4-year orbit, and is already near enough to be seen with a telescope or even binoculars.
And, NASA says you may shortly be able to spot it with the naked eye.
The bright green comet will be nearest to Earth on December sixteen, when it’ll be best visible just above the eastern horizon.
NASA shared a breathtaking image just last month of the comet glowing bright in the sky as it makes its way toward its close approaches with the sun and Earth.
It will be nearest to the sun on the twelfth, according to Earthsky, before nearing our planet a few days later.
The image, shared as a part of NASA’s astronomy image of the Day, shows comet 46P/Wirtanen when it was still too far to be seen with the naked eye.
‘From dark sky sites it might just become naked-eye visible though, as its 5.4 year-long looping orbit takes it nearest to Earth and the sun in mid December,’ NASA explains of the image, captured by Alex Cherney (Terrastro, TWAN).
‘Fluorescing in sunlight, its spherical coma is about half the angular size of a full moon in this southern hemisphere telescopic view from November seven.
‘Then the comet was about two light-minutes away or thirty five million kilometers from Earth-bound telescopes, so the pretty greenish coma seen here is around 150,000 kilometers across.
‘That makes it about the scale of Jupiter.’
Amateur astronomers have also been tracking the object because it makes its way closer to our planet.
Twitter user Terry Lovejoy noted earlier this week that comet 46P is currently close enough to be seen even areas with a lot of light pollution.
But for the best viewing chance, you’ll want to find a spot next week with very little interference from city lights.