A wide-field scene shows Comet 46P/Wirtanen making its historic approach to Earth on Dec. 15, 2018. This panoramic view also features the Pleiades star cluster, the California Nebula and a meteor.
Because the small comet was only 7.1 million miles (11.5 million kilometers) away from us, it was barely visible to the unaided eye, but in telescopes observers could see a beautiful greenish-blue coma.
Besides the visible comet, the panorama also features a blueish cluster of young, hot stars known as the Pleiades star cluster (M45), visible near the center of the frame. In the right edge, we can find the California Nebula (NGC 1499), while a meteor from the Geminids was crossing the sky and releasing a faint plume of smoke only perceptible in the photographs.
This panoramic scene by Miguel Claro is composed of three panes captured from the Cumeada Observatory at the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve in Portugal.
To see more of Claro’s amazing astrophotography, visit his website: miguelclaro.com.