(ORDO NEWS) — For the past 3 million years, comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) has been approaching the Sun on its long, slow journey from the outer solar system. Finally, she is here.
Michael Jaeger photographed her on June 25 from Martinsberg, Austria.
“This is a 22-minute exposure with my 16-inch telescope,” Yeager says. “The comet was about 9th magnitude.”
Comet K2 made a splash when it was discovered in 2017. At first it appeared to be one of the largest comets in modern history, with a nucleus 160 km wide.
Subsequently, observations by the Hubble Space Telescope made it possible to reduce the comet to 18 km. This is still a large size (typical sizes of cometary nuclei are 1-3 km), but not a record holder.
The comet will make its closest approach to Earth (at a distance of 1.8 AU) on July 14 and will brighten up to the 7th or 8th magnitude.
It’s too dim to see with the naked eye, but it’s an easy target for backyard telescopes. Comet K2 can be found high in the midnight sky in the constellation Ophiuha. Resources: sky maps, 3D orbit, light curve.
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