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May 31, 2020

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ONU Astronomy Club invites you to view the brightest comet of the year

Watch it Friday as it zooms near Earth

The ONU Astronomy Club hosts a "Comet Wirtanen" event from 8 to 10 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, in the ONU Observatory, according to Dr. Jason Pinkney, manager of the observatory.

"We have been clouded out on previous events, but the current forecast for Friday suggests less than 40% cloud cover – we may be able to get a glimpse of the brightest comet of 2018," he said.

 The comet is making a great appearance because it will be passing so close to the Earth (12 million km, or about 1/13 of the distance to the Sun).

"Also, it will be well placed for viewing above the southern horizon. It is expected to reach naked eye brightness by Dec. 16, the day of closest approach, but on Dec. 7 we will need our telescopes and binoculars to view it," he said.

"We will take color photographs of the comet, which should make its green hue easier to see. Not far from Comet Wirtanen in the sky are Uranus, the Pleiades, and Mars, which we can also observe."

The weather should be below freezing, so dress warmly. The  observatory has a heated control room in case you get chilled.

Check the observatory Public Events web page after 2 p.m. on Friday for possible cancellation due to weather:


Check here for maps to the observatory: