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Comet 46P/Wirtanen will be making a close pass of Earth December 16, 2018. It will be at its closest distance to Earth in over four centuries. It is a member of the Jupiter family of comets - their farthest point from the sun being near the orbit of Jupiter. It will be bright enough to see with the naked eye above the eastern horizon all month long, and can be seen even better with a telescope and/or binoculars. This 120 second image of the comet was taken Dec. 2 by an iTelescope 50 mm refractor located at an observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. The streak below the comet was produced by a rocket body (upper stage) passing through the telescope's field of view during the exposure. Specifically, the upper stage is the one that placed the Indonesian Garuda 1 communications satellite into geostationary orbit back in February of 2000. At the time of this image, the Garuda 1 upper stage was 15,880 miles from the observatory; Comet Wirtanen was 10.3 million miles distant. Image Credit: NASA

The brightest comet of the year will be visible this Sunday

On Sunday, Dec. 16, the comet named 46P/Wirtanen will make its 10 closest comet flybys of Earth in 70 years. And as scientists reported, you...