(ORDO NEWS) — One of the furthest known active comets ever discovered is coming close to Earth next week, and you can watch it live – and yes, it’s pretty big.
First discovered by Hubble in 2017, comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), or K2, was thought to be the most distant active comet.
When it was noticed, it was still in the outer part of the solar system. This record was broken by the mega-comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein this year, but K2 has been steadily moving towards us for the past five years.
The celestial body will approach the Earth by only 270 million kilometers on July 14, continuing its journey through the solar system.
There are quite a few ambiguities about how big a comet’s nucleus is. According to current estimates, its size is from 18 kilometers to 160 kilometers. It’s a big comet anyway, but if it’s that big, it’s one of the largest comets known, along with Bernardinelli-Bernstein and Hale-Bopp.
The tail of K2, on the other hand, is definitely huge – between 130,000 and 800,000 kilometers.
During its approach, it will brighten up to magnitude 8 or 7 (the lower the number, the brighter), although it will probably still look dim to be visible to the naked eye. However, telescopes should have no problem, and it will be visible until the end of summer.
As K2 continues its perihelion (closest passage to the Sun), its speed may change. It may become more active as the Sun heats up the icy core, and it may become brighter – or even disintegrate. One thing is for sure, expect some impressive shots from pros and amateurs alike in the next few weeks.
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