Sri Lankan astronomy enthusiasts will have a rare opportunity to observe a comet in the eastern sky soon after sunset in the constellation of Taurus these days. The comet 46P/Wirtanen, a space rock which is only 1.2 kilometres in diameter was first observed on January 17th, 1948 by American astronomer Carl A. Wirtanen.
This small comet with an orbital period of only 5.4 years came as close as 11.4 million kilometres to earth and became one of the 10 closest comets which flew by earth in the past 70 years.
Astronomers have predicted that the comet 46p/Wirtanen will have a peak visual magnitude of +3.9, which will make it visible to the naked eye in places where there will be clear and darker skies, without the interference of the moon light and clouds.
The comet will be clearly visible through binoculars and small telescopes as well. Further, the comet can be photographed easily using a DSLR camera.