A RARE comet will enter our inner solar system this month – here’s how you can see it.
Astronomy lovers can watch one of the largest known comets dart across the night sky on the evening of July 14th.
Designated C/2017 K2, this comet will blast into our inner solar system at a speed of about 615 km/s.
But even at its closest point, it will still be far enough away that you’ll likely need a telescope to see it.
Comet C/2017 K2
C/2017 K2, one of the largest comets we have ever observed, was discovered by the Pan-STARRS survey instrument in Hawaii in May 2017.
At that point, it was about 1.5 billion miles from the Sun — even though K2 has been migrating from its home in the Oort Cloud for millions of years.
The Oort Cloud is a region at the edge of our solar system containing hundreds of billions of comets.
Nasa has revealed that K2’s tail is between 81,000 and 500,000 miles across – that’s the size of between one and six Jupiters.
As of July 2007, the comet has been in the constellation Draco, about 309 light-years from Earth.
what is a comet
Comets are “cosmic snowballs of frozen gas, rock, and dust,” according to NASA.
They consist of remnants of the formation of the solar system.
As a comet approaches the Sun, it forms a “tail” of gas and dust particles that faces away from the large star.
This is how you see the comet
Your best way to see K2 in action is to view it online through public observatories like the Virtual Telescope Project.
Nasa’s website could also share the comet’s orbit.
If you are an amateur astronomer and have a small telescope, you might be able to take a look for yourself.
It is best seen on July 14, but the comet will be visible in the northern hemisphere through September.
After mid-September, the comet moves toward the hemisphere’s southwestern horizon.
It is important to note that if you are interested in seeing K2, 2022 is the only year this is possible.
That’s because of the comet’s long orbit — which means it won’t approach Earth again for a few million years.
https://www.the-sun.com/tech/5684434/rare-giant-comet-close-approach-earth/ Rare giant comet making ‘close’ approach to Earth this month – as observed