Welcome to the website for the Comet Wirtanen Observing Campaign.

Our intention is to provide a central clearinghouse for basic information regarding comet 46P/Wirtanen (WERE-tuh-nun) and other high profile comets, to encourage and facilitate the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of observations, and to promote collaborations between researchers.

Update: Wirtanen has been recovered!  (Click for more information)

Comet Wirtanen is a special comet

  • It is "hyperactive", a member of a small family of comets that seem to emit more water than they should for their size, given standard water production models.
  • Wirtanen is a prime candidate for a comet mission. It's readily accessible orbit has made it a favorite target for proposed spacecraft studies.
  • It is making an historically close approach to the Earth, coming within 30 Lunar distances on Dec 16, 2018. This is an excellent opportunity to learn as much as possible about this important comet.
  • Additional information and more details can be found in the pages on the menu to the left.

Site Descripition and Navigation

The navigation bar on the left can be used to access campaign pages. Some highlighted links include:

Current Status - Updates and new information about Wirtanen
Observations - Location to view what observations are planned, or submit your own plans
Physical Properties - Some of the known physical properties of comet Wirtanen
2018 Apparition - Why is this apparition historic?
History - Additional background about Wirtanen
Orbit - Information about the comet's orbit
Observing Geometry - Plots showing observing information as a function of time
Proposal Talking Points - Information and text that can be used in observing proposals

Other Observing Campaigns - Links to other objects in the observing campaign

Mailing List

We are maintaining an email list for broadcasting occasional updates regarding the comets' behavior, and for making announcements regarding short-term transient events that might prompt follow-up observations.

If you want to be added to (or removed from ) this list, then send your name, affiliation and email address to the Contact Web Form