But while in some dark rural areas it will be visible to the naked eye, astronomers are recommending people use binoculars or telescopes to get the best view of it. NASA has even sponsored an observing campaign (led by the University of Maryland) to track the comet with professional and amateur astronomical groups.
Its closest passage by the Earth will be on Sunday December 16, when it will be 7.2 million miles from the planet. At the time of closest approach, the comet will appear to be located in the constellation Taurus close to the Pleiades.
Stargazers will be treated to celestial Christmas season light displays when a meteor shower and comet pass over the Earth this week.
This picture taken from Paris region with a telescope on December 3, 2018 shows the 46P/Wirtanen comet as it will come closer to Earth on December 16, 2018. That puts the comet about 30 times farther away than our own moon, but it's still within the top ten closest flybys of a comet to Earth in the last 70 years!
A 120-second exposure of Comet 46P/Wirtanen taken with an iTelescope 50-mm refractor at an observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. Orion is a bright wintertime constellation that you can spot in the eastern sky by the distinctive "Orion's Belt", a band of three stars.
To catch a glimpse of 46P, you'll want to be in an area without much light pollution. However, Rosetta's target was changed to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which the probe studied for roughly two years, between 2014 and 2016.
46P/Wirtanen was discovered on January 17, 1948, by the American astronomer Carl Wirtanen. With a width of 0.7 miles, 46P/Wirtanen orbits the Sun fairly quickly for a comet - once every 5.4 years - making it a short-period comet - (long-period comets, on the other hand, have orbital periods greater than 200 years).
These constant swings by the sun come with a cost.
She said the comet won't have the trademark tail since it's in the wrong position and finding it won't be obvious unless a person knows where to look and is really searching for it. Also, Wirtanen has a small nucleus.
"Wirtanen's comet could easily be chosen again for another mission", said Jim Lattis, director of the University of Wisconsin astronomy outreach center, UW Space Place.
So what is the Christmas Comet? You can also see it with this virtual telescope as a live stream. But the atmosphere around the comet, or coma, is bigger than Jupiter. But the comet is an interesting object of study and helps astronomers better understand comets in general, especially those that are a part of the Jupiter family.