Astronomers Discover a New Meteor Shower. The Source is Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Comet Wirtanen imaged using a 130P-DS Newtonian telescope on a guided HEQ5 mount and an astro modified and cooled Canon 450D. 45 two-minute images stacked using deep sky stacked to stack comet and stars separately before recombination topo remove blurring. Stub Mandrel

Like many of you, I love a good meteor shower. I have fond memories of the Leonid meteor storm back in 1999 when several hundred per hour were seen at peak. Sadly meteor storms are not that common unlike meteor showers of which, there are about 20 major showers per year. Wait, there’s another one and this time it comes from the debris left behind from Comet 46P/Wirtanen with an expected peak on December 12. Last year, 23 meteors were seen on that night that matched the location of the comets trail. 

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NASA’s TESS Watched an Outburst from Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Comet 46P/Wirtanen. Image Credit: By Stub Mandrel at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0,

TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, has imaged an outburst from the comet 46P/Wirtanen. It caught the outburst in what NASA is calling the clearest images yet of a comet outburst from start to finish. A comet outburst is a significant but temporary increase in the comet’s activity, outside of the normal sunlight-driven vaporization of ices that creates a comet’s coma and tail.

Astronomers aren’t certain what causes them, but a new study based on this observation is shedding some light on them.

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