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Comet Wirtanen fulfills expectations

The comet 46P/ Wirtanen reached its perigee on December, 16th, approaching Earth at less than 12 million kilometers. Such a circumstance uses to be the best time to observe a comet but it wasn't in this case, due to the presence in the sky of a bright Moon... But the comet is getting as bright as sheduled, so the spectacle might go on for a few days after the moonlight nights, that will be in the last week of December.

Meanwhile we took a picture of the comet some days ago (before the coming of the Moon...) and still it displayed a round, bright, and particularely dense coma, which extended for over 40': yes, that's more than the apparent size of the Full Moon ! In the next days, its apparent size and brightness should make it an easy naked eye target: it will pass very close to the bright star Capella (Auriga) by December 24th, then heading to the Gemini constellation for most of January. Don't miss that opportunity to observe it, since spectacular comets tend to be scarce...

Below: comet Wirtanen on December, 10th.

Below: for comparison, comet Wirtanen on November, 9th., taken under the same circumstances...

Photos: Cristian Valenzuela/Observatorio del Pangue
Camera: Canon EOS 60D, at prime focus of Meade 16" LX200 scope

Lately, at the Observatorio del Pangue...

First, you arrive at Santiago de Chile...

...then you want to travel North and meet our clear skies !


Photos: (1)Eric Escalera (2)Jean Pichon / Observatorio del Pangue

In this column we display some of the most relevant news, pictures, or feelings happening around the observatory.

For a complete information on the place and the proposed programmes, you can visit our "facts" pages, listed at the top of the blog.

...and lastly, as to check if we really are as famous as the below picture suggests, don't hesitate to visit us, we'd be glad indeed to receive you...