Five years ago, the Hubble Space Telescope detected a large comet at an unprecedented distance as it approached the Sun from a distance between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus.
Now, this giant space snowball is flying towards the path closest to Earth in a few weeks.
Comet C / 2017 K2, also known as the most distant active comet ever observed, will be closest to our planet on July 14 during the current journey of the inner solar system.
However, even at its closest point, it is still farther away from us than the average distance between Earth and Mars.
The icy body is finally accessible to amateur astronomers as it approaches K2’s closest approach to our planet on July 14, and it approaches the sun on December 19. Earthsky predicts that those with smaller telescopes will be able to find a distant observer if K2 escapes the hot plane and continues to glow.
According to NASA’s Eddie Irisari and Kelly Kaiserweight at Earthsky Earthsky, various observations suggest that the K2 center may be 18 to 100 miles (30 to 160 kilometers) wide.
Preliminary observations indicate that the path of dust and gases behind C / 2017 K2 will be between 81 thousand and 500,000 miles (130 thousand and 800,000 km).
In 2017, Hubble determined that the comet’s coma (or hazy atmosphere) contained oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide, all of which were gassed from the solid as the comet warmed.
“The comet should shine up to 8 or 7 degrees and still be very dim to the naked eye,” Ertsky wrote.
Sharp-eyed visitors can usually spot 6 bright stars in the dark sky without any assistance. But as far as this comet is concerned, observers will need areas far away from light pollution to monitor it through telescopes.
To see the comet for yourself, you can follow the event through public online monitors such as the Virtual Telescope Project. You can also use applications such as small telescopes and stellarium to determine the exact direction when a comet is approaching.
After passing us in July, C / 2017 K2 will continue toward the perihelion closest to the Sun, before heading into deep space.
Comets behave unpredictably closer to the Sun. This comet may suddenly become brighter and brighter or disappear completely out of sight.
Whatever happens, this visit will be the only opportunity to learn about this comet, and its orbit is so long that it will not return for a few million years.
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