Naked Eye Comet in December: Comet 46P/Wirtanen

In about 2 months there may be a comet that you can see with the naked eye. It’s called Comet 46P/Wirtanen.  This link I found has all the details you need on it. The hope is that it will get to magnitude 6.  Lower is better for these things.  Jupiter is usually about -2.  I will be looking for it soon, but I’m mostly waiting until it gets brighter.

This will be the first naked eye comet for me since Hale Bopp.  This one had a magnitude of 10.5, and I could see it from the room I was renting in college.  I went to Syracuse, so you can imagine how bright this thing was to be seen from one of the great cities of NY.  My experience with this comet really was significant.  It got me thinking of the bigger world, and my place in it.  I wish I had the equipment I have now to see it, but what can you do.  What kills me, while I stared at the thing every day, I never once went to the campus observatory!  Can you imagine that?

I think I was spoiled, though. I mean that was one of the best comets in almost 2 centuries, for ease of viewing.  There have been very few I have seen since; only 1 with my equipment.

Again, though this is one of those free entertainment things.  The natural world has so much to offer us that it’s a shame that people don’t spend more time in it.  I was often found staring at lunar eclipses while living in NYC. I would walk out of bars, leaving behind friends, to go see this beautiful sight.  Passers by would think I was a bit of a nutter while staring up, and of course one does have to keep an awareness of their surroundings.  Pickpocketing is a problem. Still, usually, folks would congregate for a few moments, and even a few friends would join me for a few minutes.  It’s a way I was connecting with the world, and the universe.  It’s easy living in NYC to forget that there is a bigger world out there.  I often would go months without leaving Manhattan.

There are a lot of reasons why I add these few astronomy posts to my general blog. I am hoping as you read more of my perspective in what I do, you’ll understand why I do it.

Anyone else going to take a look?

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