One of the most distant active comets ever seen, will reach its closest distance to Earth on July 14 (July 24), and although for observation It's very faint to the naked eye, but you can watch a live broadcast of this astronomical event online.
Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS), abbreviated as K2, after the Hubble Space telescope first observed it in 2017 saw it in the Solar System, finally making its way to Earth.
At the time, K2 was considered the most distant active comet observed. Although last year, a long-distance Aberdeen swimmer named Bernardinelli-Bernstein broke the record. K2 will make its closest pass by the Earth on July 14 (July 24), and its distance from our planet will reach about 270 million kilometers. The virtual telescope will watch the comet's passage online starting at 18:15 EST (02:45 AM on July 24).
The sequence C/2017 K2 as seen by the Virtual telescope
Project on June 26
Credit: Gianluca Masi/The Virtual telescope Project
Over the past five years, K2 has been steadily moving towards Earth. Comets, which are mostly made of frozen gas, rock and dust, are activated as they approach the Sun. The sun's heat soon warms the comet, causing its solid ice to turn directly into gas (a process known as sublimation), forming a cloud around the comet called a coma.discovered in 2017 between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus, about 2.4 billion kilometers from the Sun, which is about 16 times farther than Earth's orbit.>
Comet C/2017 K2 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope
Credit: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (UCLA)
Preliminary observations showed that the comet has a large nucleus and a massive girdle. According to EarthSky, while the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope (CFHT) suggested that K2's core could be between 30 and 160 kilometers across, data from the Hubble Space telescope suggested that it might be only 18 kilometers across.
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Therefore, the near-future passage of this comet presents a good opportunity for professional observatories. It allows to measure the actual size of its core. Other sky enthusiasts can also focus on the beauty of this passing object. Viewers of the live webcast should expect to see a patch of faint light that indicates the comet's plume has engulfed the nucleus.
One of the latest images of comet Kito's motion recorded
on July 1, 2022 (10 July 1401) by an amateur astronomer.
Credit: Chuck Ayoub
As the comet made its way toward the inner solar system, it grew brighter. It is expected that this comet will shine at magnitude 8 or even 7 during the closest passage, which will occur on 24 July, which unfortunately is still too faint for the naked eye and cannot be observed directly, but it is possible to observe it with telescopes and astronomical instruments. .
K2 will remain in view of the telescope during the summer season, and then it will move towards its closest distance to the Sun, which will occur on December 19.
Cover Photo: Orbit of comet C/2017 K2
Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)