Green ‘Christmas comet’ visible this week


(WOOD) — Monday night will be the best night for Michiganders to see Comet 46P/Wirtanen, otherwise known as the Christmas comet.

It got the nickname because it passes closest to Earth around the holiday, though it doesn’t make the trip every year. This will be the closest the comet has been to Earth in about 70 years.

Skies will finally be clear enough to find the tiny object blazing in the distance. You’ll need binoculars or a telescope to see it well.

The comet was the closest to our planet on Dec. 16, but experts say we will still be able to view it for another week or so on dark nights with binoculars. 

Those away from city lights will have the best chance of seeing it as it zooms farther away. Be sure to pay attention to when the moon sets so that there is even less light pollution. The moon will set at 2:30 a.m. to 3 a.m Tuesday and at 4 a.m. Wednesday. By Thursday, we should be cloudy again here in West Michigan.

The comet will appear green, faint and fuzzy. Here is a shot of the Christmas comet by Mark Hansen from early December before it passed closer to Earth:

The best way to find where to look is to locate Orion’s Belt, then extend your view up and left. The comet will be above the constellations of Taurus and Auriga in the coming days. 

If you get photos or video of the comet, you can send it to Be sure to include your name and where the photo was taken.

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