Comet C/2017 K2 broke records when it was discovered in 2017. It is now closer to Earth and can be seen with small telescopes.
Frankfurt – Discovered in 2017, but now comet C/2017 K2 (PanStarrs) is of interest only to observers on Earth. The reason: on July 14, 2022, the comet, dubbed K2, reached its closest position in its orbit to Earth, and is very easy to observe from Earth – and this is still possible until the fall, As dad wrote.
Comet K2 dealt the blow: When it was first spotted by the PanStarrs telescope system in Hawaii in 2017, it was thought to be the farthest comet discovered on its journey into the interior of the solar system. At the time, it was between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus – 1.5 billion miles from the Sun. It is now in the inner solar system and is nearing its closest point, about 270 million km from Earth. Since then it has continued to fly towards the sun. The comet will reach its closest point to the sun, called perihelion, on December 19, 2022.
Comet C/2017 K2 (PanStarrs): When and How to Best Monitor Comets
This is good news for observers in the northern hemisphere: With a small telescope, the comet will be visible all summer long. However, the best time to observe is not the day of the nearest situation – the day before It’s the biggest full moon of the year (giant moon) in the sky, and took difficult notes because of the brightness. A few days later, the moon rises after midnight, so the sky becomes darker and the comet is better closed.
But how do you find the culprit? It can be found in the south after dark. It remains in the constellation Ophiuchus until about the end of July, after which it moves near the star Acrab in the constellation Scorpius. Around mid-September, in the dark, it no longer rises so high above the horizon that it can be seen properly. Free astronomy software and applications such as “Stellarium”, “SkySafari” or “Star Walk” can be used to pinpoint the exact location of a comet.
Comet C/2017 K2 (PanStarrs): What Observers Can See in Telescopes
Those observing the comet with a small telescope should be able to see scattered or blurred points of light (coma coma) around the core of Comet C/2017 K2 in a dark sky. A skilled observer may be able to see a coma (fog and dust that collects around the comet’s core) which is larger than many other comets. Part of the comet’s tail can also be seen in telescopes. A comet’s long exposure should show the comet and its tail in all its glory.
Watch comets live
If you don’t have a telescope but still want to observe comets, you’ll find what you’re looking for on the Internet: DAS Virtual telescope project showing comet in live broadcastStarting July 15 at 12:15.
Comet C/2017 K2 (PanStarrs) breaks record when discovered
Comets are mostly rock and dust held together by ice. When a comet approaches the cold outer sun of the solar system, the ice heats up and sublimates, the comet becomes energetic and begins to break away. The comet’s distinctive coma and tail appear. Comet C/2017 K2 was already active when it was discovered in 2017 – although it is still 2.4 billion kilometers from the sun.
However, the comet’s early activity does not appear to have anything to do with the Sun. After observing the comet with the Hubble Space Telescope in 2017, lead researcher David Jewett of the University of California said we think this activity was caused by the sublimation of supermaterial when K2 first entered the planetary region of the solar system. That’s why it’s so special. This comet is so far away and so cold that the water ice there freezes like rock.”
More distant comets found
Meanwhile, with Bernardinelli-Bernstein is the farthest comet in the solar system (4.4 billion km from the Sun). she also Already active and heading to the solar system. However, it is no closer to the sun than to the orbit of Saturn.
Early telescopic observations of comet C/2017 K2 showed that the comet could have a core 30 to 160 kilometers in diameter. Further observations using the Hubble Space Telescope NASA However, he suggests that the core may be smaller, about 18 kilometers or less. Another sign that a comet may be large (or at least very active) is the size of its coma: its diameter is 130,000 km – 10 times the diameter of planet Earth. Observations also assume that the tail is about 800,000 kilometers long.
Comet nuclei are typically up to three kilometers long – K2 is bigger
Most comets have nuclei with a diameter of one to three kilometers. Some of them can also measure up to 16 kilometers. The famous Comet Hale-Bopp is 60 kilometers in diameter, and Bernardinelli-Bernstein is about 150 kilometers wide. Like Bernardinelli-Bernstein, Comet C/2017 K2 is believed to have originated in the Oort Cloud at the edge of the Solar System. From there it traveled to the solar system for about three million years. (tab)