By Chuck Cagara
A comet visible to the naked eye (easier with binoculars) has been seen for several weeks. Known as Comet 46P/Wirtanen, it was discovered by astronomer Carl Wirtanen in 1948 and appears now at its brightest in 20 years.
Don't get excited, because it is a very tiny greenish smudge, nowhere the equal of such wonders as Comet Hale-Bopp, for example.
Never-the-less, I was anxious to view and photograph it. Having been thwarted in that effort due to a recent bright moon and passing clouds and overcast skies, we were given a clear window on Christmas Eve.
The first photo was taken with a 50mm lens, selected to give a view that closely approximates our normal field of vision. Thus, the comet and stars appear in the photo at close to the same size as we would see them with our naked eye. Overhead power lines are included to give a sense of scale and proportion. Clouds are seen moving through the bottom of the scene during the time exposure.
The second photo gives a slightly closer detail view of this elusive orb.