Comet 46P making close approach

The comet 46P/Wirtanen (46P) is set to make a close approach to Earth this weekend. At its closest, 46P will pass a mere 11.7 million km from our planet.

46P/Wirtanen is a small short-period comet with orbital period of 5.4 years. It was the original target for exploration by the ESA Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander but an inability to meet the launch window in 2003 caused Rosetta to be sent to 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko instead. It is named after astronomer Carl Wirtanen, who first observed it in 1948.