Comet 46P / Virtanen appears in tricolor photo in earlier passage 2012
Comet 46P / Virtanen was found in 1948, but 2018 may be the best year to consider a small, hyperactive cosmic ball of stone, ice, and debris. The fact is that on December 16 the comet will make the closest approach to the Earth, flying at a distance of 11.5 million km. It will be the 10th closest passage since 1950, capable of becoming the brightest.
It can be seen in the sky with the naked eye due to the approach. It is believed that it will be noticeable within weeks. 46P / Virtanena has a relatively small core, but is considered part of a small family of hyperactive comets that can contain large amounts of volatile ice. When approaching the Sun, the ice melts, feeding a large coma (the cloudy part, including the tail). Even when approaching, the comet will be located 30 times farther from the moon, so there are no fears about collisions. Comet 46P / Virtanen was the original purpose of the Rosette mission, which traveled to comet 67P. Astronomers are already tracking the movement of the guest, waiting for a bright celestial show in December.