Comet 46P/Wirtanen now Brightening as Expected

Mike Olason
Location of photo
Denver, Colorado
Date/Time of photo
11 August 2018, 0913UT
11" SCT f/6.4 and STF-8300M CCD Camera
Comet 46P/Wirtanen is finally showing some nice comet activity with a short tail to the west (above) the coma in this image. 46P is magnitude 16.7 and 98 million miles from Earth in this image and is now following Seiichi Yoshidas magnitude curve which could make 46P a faint naked eye comet in December. Comet 46P/Wirtanen is predicted to reach about magnitude 3.5 when it will only be 7 million miles from Earth on December 16 this year and the comet will be 50 degrees above the western horizon when the Moon sets at 8UT/1AM in Denver and over 6 hours will move 1 degree across Earth's night sky on that night. 46P should be brighter than magnitude 6 and visible in the night sky from mid November until mid January.
Astronomy Pictures: Sky & Telescope's Online Gallery, Meteor, Comet & Asteroid Pictures
Mike Olason

About Mike Olason

I started imaging comets in 1994 with an ST-5 CCD Camera and an 11" SC Telescope. Since then the CCD cameras have changed (ST-7, ST-402ME and STF-8300M), but I am still using the 11" SC Telescope. Naturally I have used a lot of smaller telescopes to obtain larger fields of view. I live south of Denver at an elevation of 6150 feet which allows me to image comets down to almost magnitude 21 on a perfect night. Unfortunately ChemTrails have turned Denver cloudy and dry. I use the camera software CCDOps to process my images. All I do to each image is dark subtraction and flat field, stack images as required to show faint comets, contrast/bright adjust the final image and maybe use a median filter to reduce the image noise. The result is an image that reflects reality and will never win any picture of the day award. If you would like to use my images for a project or ask a question send me an email to "".
All comments must follow the Sky & Telescope Terms of Use and will be moderated prior to posting. Please be civil in your comments. Sky & Telescope reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter’s username, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.