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ThePlanetsToday.com brings you face to face with the solar system as it is now... and also how it was and how it will be.

Comet 46p/Wirtanen on 2nd Dec 2018

Image of 46P/Wirtanen on 2nd December 2018. Credit: Taken by Mike Broussard on December 2, 2018 @ Perry, Louisiana, USA. By permission of spaceweathergallery.com Link.

46P/Wirtanen : Taken by Gerald Rhemann on December 7, 2018 @ Farm Tivoli, Namibia, SW-Africa

Taken by Gerald Rhemann on December 7, 2018 @ Farm Tivoli, Namibia, SW-Africa. By permission of spaceweathergallery.com Link.

Where is the comet 46P/Wirtanen right now?

This page shows the current location of comet 46P/Wirtanen. The data is taken from NASA's JPL website.

The animation can be run forwards and backwards to show previous and future locations of the comet in the years 1600 - 2500. As can be seen, 46P/Wirtanen is in an unstable orbit and undergoes some changes when interacting with Jupiter - especially in 2054.

46P/Wirtanen is a small short-period comet with a current orbital period of 5.4 years. It was the original target for close investigation by the Rosetta spacecraft, planned by the European Space Agency, but an inability to meet the launch window led to Rosetta being sent to 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko instead. It belongs to the Jupiter family of comets, all of which travel out to between 5 and 6 AU from the Sun. Its diameter is estimated at 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi).

To see the current status of this comet, click here.

For more information on this and other comets, please visit our Comet page.

To see a great selection the latest images of this comet, visit: spaceweathergallery.com