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Comet 46P Wirtanen

This comet is currently well placed for telescope viewing and photography lying just to the right of the Pleiades (M45) in the west. It is currently mag 9.5 and fading, but is easily seen in a 4″ or larger telescope with averted vision on a moonless night. It will continue to fade and pass south through Auriga and above Gemini in late March and April. By July it will be Mag 18 and all but invisible to even the largest amateur telescopes. Between March 21st and 31st it will pass through Auriga and very close to a number of the open clusters that abound there and should make for a really nice photo opportunity. Comet 46P Wirtanen takes 5.45 years to complete an orbit of the sun. I photographed it using the Canon 350d attached to the 4.5″ Vixen 115s on the EQ6 mount last night at 10.35pm. You should be able to see a faint green fuzzy ball at the centre of the photo below, that’s the comet! There is a possible small tail to the left of the core.

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Categories: Comets
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