- Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Boozy comet will cause an alcohol shower in 2024

No, that's not a joke and it's got ice, too! So . . one comet on the rocks, please.

Go home Comet Wirtanen, you're drunk. Comets consist of some surprisingly complex molecules, often including alcohol. However, Comet 46P/Wirtanen released an unusually large amount of ethanol as it flew past Earth in 2018. Perhaps it's not surprising then that it also showed some other strange and as yet unexplained behaviour. Comet Wirtanen is a short-period comet, with an orbit of just 5.4 years, so not a rare visitor from the depths of space. 46P/Wirtanen has one of the highest alcohol-to-aldehyde ratios measured in any comet to date.

If a hot, drunk comet traveling around the inner Solar System and behaving erratically sounds alarming the good news is that Wirtanen never crosses Earth's orbit. Its closest approach to the Sun is 5 percent further out, and its elongated orbit takes it out as far as Jupiter. Even better - the passing comet causes a meteor shower, called Piscid. It was first observed in Australia in 2014 and you can bet some Aussies had their mouth open and pointing towards the sky. It's free booze! Jokes aside, the next drunk visit is expected to be on the 19th of May, 2024. Unfortunately, alcohol doesn't come down to Earth, as it gets vaporised way above our heads, but the hope is always there.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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