Comet 46P Wirtanen in Cetus on December 3, 2018
I have been waiting for a while for the comet 46P Wirtanen to get high enough in the
southern sky to observe. The photos of this comet from the Southern Hemisphere have
been impressive. Last night was really the first night that I had a chance of seeing the
comet from my backyard. Previously the comet was either too low in the southern sky or
it was not clear outside. I had to fight clouds last night but I finely got to see the comet.
You might think that at magnitude 4.4 it would be easy to see, but that is not the case.
I never could see it with binoculars and only after I had star hoped and confirmed its
location with the 6-inch refractor, could I find it with the 2.4-inch refractor (with much
difficulty I might add). The problem is that, like many comets, the light is spread-out
over a large area. Being low in the sky in the direction of the Washington D.C. glow
(from my location) made it a challenge. Even with the 6-inch refractor I was not coming
close to seeing the outer-sections of the coma, so in my drawing the comet appears far
smaller than it would be seen under better observing conditions.
I am counting on getting better views and drawings in the up coming weeks.