Comet 46P/Wirtanen appears in the sky as it orbits the sun about every five years.
A 120-second exposure of Comet 46P/Wirtanen taken with an iTelescope 50-mm refractor at an observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico.
The comet will make its closest approach on Sunday (Dec. 16), flying by just 7,199,427 miles (11,586,350 kilometers) from our planet. However you can see it, the comet will appear more "clouded" than other objects in the sky.
This picture taken from Paris region with a telescope on December 3, 2018 shows the 46P/Wirtanen comet as it will come closer to Earth on December 16, 2018.
"This comet has already been visible in larger amateur telescopes, and while the brightness of comets is notoriously hard to predict, there is the possibility that during its close approach comet 46P/Wirtanen could be visible with binoculars or to the naked eye".
If you look up into the night sky on Sunday, December 16, 2018, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Comet 46P/Wirtanen. "This could be one of the brightest comets in years, offering astronomers an important opportunity to study a comet up close with ground-based telescopes, both optical and radar".
Led by University of Maryland astronomers, the campaign has worldwide participation across the professional and amateur astronomical communities.
The comet's bright display will be preceded by the shooting stars of the Geminid meteor shower, which will create a Christmas light show for people with their eyes to the heavens. It was closest to the sun on December 12.
Carl Wirtanen discovered 46P on January 17, 1948, at the Lick Observatory in Mount Hamilton, California. Wirtanen is largely made up of ices, and with the comet's repeated passes by our star, that ice has bled off over the eons - eliminating any hope of a bright tail caused by lots of material released at once, Tucker said.
So why does the comet look fuzzy or ghostly?
Officially, it's known as Comet 42P/Wirtanen, but if the weather cooperates, Highland Countians should be able to see what's being called "the Christmas Comet" in the eastern sky at night.
The comet will even pass through the observing field of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), Nasa said.
She said the comet won't have the trademark tail since it's in the wrong position and finding it won't be obvious unless a person knows where to look and is really searching for it. The best way to see it is with your local astronomy club.