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The Christmas Comet

The Christmas Comet

According to Astronomy Ireland Comet 46P Wirtanen, or the “Christmas comet” as it is being called, will be visible in Irish skies this week. It will be closer to Earth this week than it will be for the rest of our lifetime. Astronomy Ireland chairman, David Moore has described it as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to see the comet as it won’t come this close again in the next 500 years.

The comet was first discovered photographically by Carl A. Wirtanen, an American astronomer, in 1948. It travels around the sun every 5.5 years and hasn’t been this close to Earth in 70 years. NASA has said that it will pass Earth at a distance of 11.6 million kilometers, that’s 30 times the distance from Earth to the moon. The comet will glow green so it should be easy to tell it from a star.

Whilst not yet known if it will be visible by the naked it, it will be bright enough to see if you have binoculars or a telescope. Obviously keeping clear of light pollution will make it easier to see. The best place to view it will be at Astronomy Ireland’s Dublin headquarters, located in the Rosemount Business Park, Blanchardstown. They are having an event on Friday the 14th of December at 8 PM. Astronomy Ireland will be setting up incredibly powerful telescopes to view the Christmas comet and entry is free of charge.

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