A Huge Comet Is Approaching Earth Today, And You Can See It Live – Teach Me About Science

A huge comet makes its closest approach today. (Illustration: Tryfonov/Adobe).

There is a huge comet in the sky this month, Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS), visible through binoculars or small telescopes. It will make its closest approach to planet Earth this Thursday, July 14 and its closest approach to the Sun in December. Observation was easier during the first days of the month due to the absence of the Moon. Now its closest approach coincides with the full moon, which will hamper observation. But all is not lost, the Virtual Telescope Project will broadcast the event live and you can watch it for free.

The Virtual Telescope Project broadcast begins at 5:15 p.m. EST (22:15 UTC). To be able to see it, just enter the video below and if you want to know more about the project, you can visit your website.

According to EarthSky, observers using a small telescope (preferably in dark skies) should be able to see a patch of diffused or blurry light (the coma) around the nucleus of comet C/2017 K2. The first time it could be seen with small telescopes was in May and it will remain visible until September. Astronomers estimate that comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) has been traveling from the Oort cloud for about 3 million years in a hyperbolic orbit. In July 2022, the celestial visitor will be approximately 172 million miles (277 million km) from Earth and gradually approaching it.

The next image showed the cometa C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS), photographed on June 20, 2022. Milky Way.

(Credit: APOD / José J. Chambo).

See this other spectacular capture which shows comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS), obtained thanks to the joint work of Christian Blanco and Brandon Echeverrys, last Saturday June 25, between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. (UTC – 7), from a Bortle sky 2, SQM 21.96.

(Credits: Christian Blanco / Brandon Echeverrys).

Most of the comets that visit us are the icy remnants of the solar system’s formation 4.6 billion years ago and, therefore, of pristine icy composition. When a comet approaches the Sun, it heats up rapidly so that its solid ice turns directly into gas and forms a cloud around the comet called an atmosphere or a coma.

According to NASA, K2 was discovered in May 2017 by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in Hawaii, a survey project of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observation Program. It was then the furthest incoming active comet ever found, discovered when it was around 2.5 billion kilometers from the Sun, placing it between the orbital distances of Uranus and Saturn. Hubble Space Telescope observations indicated that the comet had a large nucleus less than 18 kilometers in diameter.

Currently, it is the brightest comet in the night sky and appears in the eastern direction next to the constellation Ophiuchus or Ophiuchus. If you have a spotting team, you can try to capture it at night. Stay on top of our astronomy news so you don’t miss any astronomical event!

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