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"Hyperactive" comet to make one of the closest approaches so far



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Cabinet of CTVNews.ca

Posted on Sunday, December 9, 2018 01:20 PM EST

Last Updated on Sunday, December 9, 2018 13:31 EST

The comet that is approaching and closer to Earth in recent months will soon make its closest approach.

Comet 46P / Wirtanen will pass about 11.6 million kilometers from the planet on December 16. For reference, the distance between Earth and the moon is 384,400 kilometers.

The only proximity is rare – it will be Earth's 10th nearest comet on record – but what really excites sky-gazers is the comet's brightness. Many of the near comets were barely visible to the naked eye, but the Comet 46P / Wirtanen is expected to be near the brightest when it passes.

As a result, the comet is expected to be visible from most parts of the earth if the conditions are clear. People who look in the sky in most Canadian communities will be able to see it, starting shortly between 5:30 am. and 6 am. on December 16th, reaching the highest point in the sky between 10 am. and 10:30 am, and then disappear until 4 am on December 17, according to In-The-Sky.org.

There is a zero percent chance of a comet hitting Earth, according to astronomers at the University of Maryland, although it may remain visible in the night sky for weeks after the top of December 16th.

Maryland astronomers describe Comet 46P / Wirtanen as a "hyperactive" comet, emitting more water than it should be expected on the basis of the size of its core.

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