Comet Virtanen is approaching Earth, considered to be one of the brightest, but this time its luminosity will reach simply colossal numbers. On the night of January 1, residents of the southern regions of the Russian Federation will be able to observe a comet at its zenith. In order to fully enjoy the heavenly view, it is better to stay in the highlands. Alexander Ivanov, head of the Krasnodar geographical center of astronomy and cosmonautics of the Russian Geographical Society, told the head of the astrophysical observatory of the Kuban State University about this.
This month, Comet Virtanen will get as close as possible to our planet, and astronomers have already dubbed it the brightest in the outgoing year. In January 2019, it will be removed, and it will not be possible to keep track of it with the naked eye, and some time later you will not see it with the help of binoculars.
“At night, on December 31, it will be necessary to look directly at the zenith – it will be practically over your head, not far from the constellation Auriga. And next to it, if you have binoculars at hand, you can see how two more comets line up in addition to comet Virtanen, ”the expert shared practical advice.
In addition, Ivanov proposes to go out of town on the night of December 31, where the numerous lights of a densely populated area will not interfere with watching the comet. And even better to climb the mountains, from where the view will open just amazing. But even now, the space object is very clearly visible; all you have to do is look to the southern part of the sky.
Alexander Ivanov himself has been studying comet Virtanen for many years, and last time he observed it with a telescope in 2008. Then the celestial body was also quite bright, but its current approach to the Earth is truly unprecedented, so you need to take advantage of the beautiful moment by 100%.
As for the inhabitants of the Urals, the best dates for observations are December 16 and 17. Vladilen Sanakoev of the Astronomical Observatory of the Ural Federal University noted that when comets fly past the Earth in the summertime, it’s not very convenient to watch them because of the bright nights. But now there was a great opportunity: a dark night, good weather, and the comet is closer than ever.
Comet Virtanen belongs to the class of short-period, the period of revolution around the Sun is 5.4 years. The diameter of the core of the object exceeds the kilometer. The comet was discovered in 1948 by the famous American astronomer Carl Virtanen. December 16, the distance between it and the Earth will be 10 million kilometers.