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.

How can I find the comet?

Now that Wirtanen has reached naked eye brightness (at least at dark sites), one popular question is "Where do I need to look to see it?" Because of the close approach, the comet is rapidly moving from South to North and changes its position from day to day. So the best way to figure out where to look is to use our star charts to guide you in using star patterns to find the comet. On the day of close approach, it is only a few degrees from the Pleiades star cluster, which makes a nice pointer.

Comet Images

We've had a lot of images submitted by observers from all over the world. If you have cloudy skies (or just want to see some great pictures), check them out: AOP Wirtanen Gallery. Images are also available at the Gallery or at a number of facebook sites.

Recent Updates   (click for more information)

December 10: Production rates and a diffuse coma

December 8: HCN and Water Production

November 26: Rotation Period and Water Production

October 18: First measurements of Water Production

September 21: Update to Secular lightcurve and good news about Semrock CN filter

September 4: Update to Secular lightcurve and orbital elements

August 14: New image of the comet

July 31: Hold-the-Date announcement of the Mike A'Hearn Symposium

July 26: Update to Secular lightcurve and addition of a list of future close approaches

July 16: Update to Secular lightcurve and orbital elements

June 26: Correction on Wirtanen's recovery

June 26: Currently, Wirtanen seems to be somewhat fainter than expected from pre-recovery predictions

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