7 Fun Facts About Meteors

See the year’s brightest comet as it flies by Earth this weekend

The 2018 Geminid meteor shower isn’t the only can’t-miss celestial spectacle this weekend.

» RELATED: How and when to watch the dazzling Geminid meteor shower this week

A glowing Christmas comet, the 46/Wirtanen, will fly nearby on Sunday, Dec. 16, and will only be 7.2 million miles from Earth at 8:06 a.m. This makes it the 10th-closest distance a comet has come to our planet since the 1950s.

According to NASA, Comet Wirtanen is a member of the Jupiter family of comets, meaning its farthest point from the sun is near the orbit of the great gas planet.

» RELATED: Mark your calendar for these 2018 meteor showers

Comet 46P won’t have the big tail of a comet like Halley’s, but you should be able to see a smear.

It will be bright enough for those in the eastern horizon to see with the naked eye all month long. It  can best be seen with a telescope or binoculars, though you will need very dark, clear skies for optimal viewing.

» RELATED: NASA spacecraft nears asteroid hoping to learn secrets of early solar system

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.