The ball of gas and dust, sometimes referred to as the “Christmas Comet,” was named 46P/Wirtanen, after the astronomer Carl Wirtanen , who discovered it in 1948.
The proximity of 46P/Wirtanen provides an opportunity to research the tail of the comet and see farther into the nucleus.
The comet is also interesting to scientists because it is hyperactive, meaning it emits more water than expected, a phenomenon that is relatively rare.
The comet is visible now but it will shine even brighter on Sunday as it reaches its closest approach, 7.1 million miles from Earth.
After it moves on, it won’t be this close to Earth again for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, he added.
Those who live in areas with low levels of light pollution will most likely be able to see the comet with the naked eye.
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