Your guide to the Solar System
🌎 Location: Greenwich, United Kingdom [change]
Comets » 

Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Available Resources

Comet 46P/Wirtanen Position

Comet 46P/Wirtanen is currently in the constellation of Libra. The current Right Ascension is 15h 58m 43s and the Declination is -12° 31’ 59”.

15h 58m 43s
-12° 31’ 59”

Simplified sky chart showing where Comet 46P/Wirtanen is right now in the sky with respect to the brightest stars and constellations (see full screen Online Planetarium)

Map showing Comet 46P/Wirtanen in Libra on March, 28 2020
Field of view: 60x30 degrees
View fullscreen
 = visible to the naked eye
 = binocular, brighter than 10th magnitude
= current altitude ≥ 30°   = current altitude < 30°   = below the horizon
Location: Greenwich, United Kingdom [change]

Higher precision deep sky finder chart showing where Comet 46P/Wirtanen is right now (view fullscreen)

RA: 15h 58m 43s
Dec: -12° 31’ 59”
Deep sky finder chart for Comet 46P/Wirtanen
Field of view: 60x40 arcmins
View fullscreen

Also check out Where is Comet 46P/Wirtanen?, a page that provides all the information needed to find Comet 46P/Wirtanen in the sky and additional links to sky charts.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen Distance

The distance of Comet 46P/Wirtanen from Earth is currently 505,923,054 kilometers, equivalent to 3.381887 Astronomical Units. Light takes 28 minutes and 7.5777 seconds to travel from Comet 46P/Wirtanen and arrive to us.

28 minutes and 7.5777 seconds

The following chart shows the distance of Comet 46P/Wirtanen from Earth as a function of time. In the chart the distance data is measured in Astronomical Units and sampled with an interval of 1 day.

Distance of Comet 46P/Wirtanen from Earth between January 2013 and December 2100

The value of the reported distance might be somewhat inaccurate around the times of closest approach for objects passing extremely close to Earth. The value of the distance of 46P/Wirtanen from Earth is also available as a real time updated value in the Live Position and Data Tracker.

Closest approach of Comet 46P/Wirtanen to Earth

Between January 2013 and December 2100 the closest approach of Comet 46P/Wirtanen to Earth happens on Mon Dec 17 2018 at a distance of 0.07750887 Astronomical Units, or 11,595,162 kilometers:

Mon Dec 17 2018

NOTE: values for the closest approach are computed with a sampling interval of 1 day.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen brightness

The current visual magnitude of Comet 46P/Wirtanen is 27.80.


The observed magnitude and coma diameter values are derived from the Comet Observers Database by averaging the values reported in recent observations (more recent than 4 days), when available. The Estimated Magnitude comes from the JPL Horizons ephemerides service and might be inaccurate given the highly dynamic and unpredictable behavior of comets. When available, please refer to the Observed Magnitude value and consider the Estimated Magnitude as a directional indication. We acknowledge with thanks the comet observations from the COBS Comet Observation Database contributed by observers worldwide and used in this table to report recent comet observations.

The following chart is the predicted light curve (visual magnitude as a function of time) of Comet 46P/Wirtanen, according to the most recent ephemerides data. Magnitude data is sampled with a 2 days interval and there might be inaccuracies for objects changing brightness very rapidly during the course of a few days. For comets there could be large discrepancies between the observed and predicted brightness because of their highly dynamic behaviour.

Predicted magnitude of Comet 46P/Wirtanen between January 2013 and December 2100

Comet 46P/Wirtanen rise and set times

Location: Greenwich, United Kingdom [change]
Latitude: 51° 28’ 47” N
Longitude: 0° 00’ 00” E
Timezone: Europe/London

Today's Comet 46P/Wirtanen rise, transit and set times from Greenwich, United Kingdom [change] are the following (all times relative to the local timezone Europe/London):

Azimuth: 102.5°
Max altitude: 26.0°
Azimuth: 257.5°
Comet 46P/Wirtanen is below the horizon from Greenwich, United Kingdom

The rise and set times are defined as the time at which the upper limb of Comet 46P/Wirtanen touches the horizon, considering the effect of the atmospheric refraction. As the atmospheric conditions cannot be modeled precisely the times reported here should be considered correct with an approximation of few minutes.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen Orbital Elements

The following table lists the orbital elements of Comet 46P/Wirtanen at epoch 12 December 2018 00:00 UTC (JD: 2458465.5). Source: JPL Small-Body Database

Element Symbol Value
Orbit eccentricity e 0.65875956
Orbit inclination i 11.74759116°
Perihelion distance q 1.05535576 AU
157,878,975 km
Aphelion distance Q 5.13005271 AU
767,444,964 km
Semi-major axis a 3.09270424 AU
462,661,970 km
Orbital period period 5.4400 years
1,986.5798 days
Date of perihelion transit Tp 2018-Dec-12 22:20:55
2,458,465.4312 JD
Next perihelion transit 2024-May-21 12:15
2,460,452.0110 JD
Argument of perihelion peri 356.34109205166°
Longitude of the ascending node node 82.157640011058°
Mean anomaly M 0.012467382288916°
Mean motion n 0.18121598°/day

Visualization of Comet 46P/Wirtanen Orbit

This 3d orbit diagram is a feature of our 3D Solar System Simulator and shows the orbit of Comet 46P/Wirtanen with respect of the Sun and the orbits of the major planets. The position of Comet 46P/Wirtanen and the planets along their orbits in this diagram accurately represents the current configuration of the objects in the Solar System. This is an experimental feature and it requires a WebGL enabled browser. Please provide us feedback!

Orbit Diagram of Comet 46P/Wirtanen
View Comet 46P/Wirtanen in the 3D Solar System Simulator

Comet 46P/Wirtanen 15 Days Ephemeris

The following table lists the ephemerides of Comet 46P/Wirtanen computed for the past and next 7 days, with a 24 hours interval. Click on each row of the table to locate Comet 46P/Wirtanen in our Online Planetarium at the chosen date.

Date Right AscensionR.A. DeclinationDec. MagnitudeMag Constellation
2020 Mar 21 16h 01m 08s -12° 45’ 11” 27.78 Libra
2020 Mar 22 16h 00m 52s -12° 43’ 36” 27.78 Libra
2020 Mar 23 16h 00m 36s -12° 41’ 57” 27.79 Libra
2020 Mar 24 16h 00m 19s -12° 40’ 14” 27.79 Libra
2020 Mar 25 16h 00m 00s -12° 38’ 30” 27.79 Libra
2020 Mar 26 15h 59m 39s -12° 36’ 45” 27.79 Libra
2020 Mar 27 15h 59m 18s -12° 34’ 56” 27.79 Libra
2020 Mar 28 15h 58m 56s -12° 33’ 06” 27.79 Libra
2020 Mar 29 15h 58m 33s -12° 31’ 13” 27.80 Libra
2020 Mar 30 15h 58m 09s -12° 29’ 18” 27.80 Libra
2020 Mar 31 15h 57m 45s -12° 27’ 21” 27.80 Libra
2020 Apr 01 15h 57m 19s -12° 25’ 23” 27.80 Libra
2020 Apr 02 15h 56m 52s -12° 23’ 22” 27.80 Libra
2020 Apr 03 15h 56m 22s -12° 21’ 20” 27.81 Libra