The 46P/Wirtanen, or more commonly known ‘Christmas Comet’, makes its return this weekend. Only seen once every five years, the glowing green speck has been growing brighter in the sky since November. And this year, the comet will come within 7 million miles of Earth—a proximity that won’t happen again for another 20 years.
The Christmas Comet will make its closest approach at its peak on Sunday and will be visible to the naked eye. It may appear like a fuzzy halo due to the comet being made of ice. As it passes the sun, parts of the comet melt and are absorbed into an expansive atmosphere that travels with it, creating a glowing green cloud, according to Popular Science.
To catch a glimpse of 46P, you’ll want to be in an area without much light pollution. Look up with a pair of binoculars between twilight and sunrise. You can check Time and Date to figure out when the best time to see it in your location. It will also tell you in what part of the sky to look. The Virtual Telescope Project will also be live streaming the comet’s trajectory on Sunday starting at 5 p.m. ET.
Jim Lattis, the director of the University of Wisconsin astronomy outreach center, UW Space Place, believes the comet is notable and very important to keep watch of.
“We’re getting a look at stuff that was formed during the formation of the solar system and has been out in the deep freeze since then,” Lattis said to CNN. “When these things come in and we get a chance to study them, we’re seeing some of the raw materials out of which the Earth and the other planets and everything else formed.”