Comet to pass ‘unusually’ close to Earth on Friday

Astronomy Ireland are organising a public viewing event of Comet Wirtanen

A stock photo image of a comet. Astronomy Ireland have said Comet Wirtanen is already bright enough to be visible on a clear, dark sky in rural parts of the country Photograph: iStock

A stock photo image of a comet. Astronomy Ireland have said Comet Wirtanen is already bright enough to be visible on a clear, dark sky in rural parts of the country Photograph: iStock

 

A comet is due to pass “unusually” close to Earth this Friday, making it visible to the naked eye, according to Astronomy Ireland.

Comet Wirtanen is already bright enough to be visible on a clear, dark sky in rural parts of the country, the group said.

The comet is due to pass closer to Earth than it ever will again during our lifetime, and the group estimate it should be visible on dark nights from city suburbs around mid-December.

Astronomy Ireland are organising a viewing for the public on Friday, December 14th, when the comet will likely be at its brightest.

The viewing will have several high powered telescopes for members of the public to use. It will take place from 8pm at Astronomy Ireland’s headquarters, at unit B1, in Rosemount Business Park, Blanchardstown, west Dublin.

David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine, said there has not been “a comet this well placed and bright for many years”. The path of the comet will be tracking high across Irish skies.

“We want to give the general public a close up look at this comet in powerful telescopes. We’ll show them where it is in the sky with the naked eye, and then show them a close up view several thousand times better in the telescopes,” Mr Moore said.

The event, which is free of charge, will take place regardless of weather conditions on the night, the group said.