On sundey 16th Decmber 2018 – the comet had its closest approach to Earth, it was only 11.7 million kilometers away, the 10th nearest comet in history. Nikon D750 with 70-200mm lens at 200mm f/4, 39x30s, Vixen Polarie.
Even though the forecast promised clear skies, I had to deal with light snowfall and clouds…
In the image above a picture of the moon was inserted to provide a sense of the size of the comet. The moon was photographed with the same telescope/camera combination on the same evening.
In contradiction to the weather report, the sky was mostly cloudy today. A passing hole in the clouds allowed me to capture the comet again with the 300mm lens.
No tail is visible in the normally processed image, only after histogram equalization of the inverted, desaturated image, a faint tail can be seen to the left.
Comet 46P/Wirtanen is a short-period comet of the Jupiter family, it orbits the sun on an elliptical path every 5.4 years. This time it reaches its closest point to the sun at the same time when it is very close to earth. Very close means ~10 million kilometers.
It is quaint faint, and even though it is visible with the naked eye, it is not a spectacular sight, even from dark skies.
The individual exposures contained many short satellite trails, as the comet was moving across the so called Clarke belt, the region of the sky where the geostationary satellites are located.
Today I got lucky with a hole in the clouds and was able to get some comet imaging done.