The magnificent comet K2 can be seen in the night sky starting today
A new comet will soon be observed from Earth as it approaches the inner solar system. Scientists discovered it when it was still a great distance from Earth.
A comet designated C/2017 K2 (or “K2” for short) was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope five years ago, in May 2017. K2 is a recent arrival in the area. Comet K2 has made its first ever trip from the outer Solar System’s Oort Cloud into the inner Solar System. Discovered in May 2017, at a distance of 2.4 billion kilometres from the Sun, between the orbits of Uranus and Saturn, it was the furthest active comet yet seen.
Scientists at the time estimated the core’s diameter to be roughly 18 kilometres. More research using ground-based telescopes followed, but the results were inconclusive; the diameter is now estimated to be between 15 and 80 kilometres, but one thing is certain: the object is massive.
The gas and dust tail will be noticeably longer. Scientists have calculated that this can reach a distance of 800,000 kilometres, which is roughly equivalent to six times the diameter of Jupiter. Despite its massive size, the nucleus is too far away from Earth for casual observers to observe it. However, the massive tail certainly allows for this.
On the evening till thursday, K2 will be at its closest approach to Earth. Even still, the night sky was fairly bright due to the full moon the day before, so it will likely be tough to notice it with the naked eye. A little telescope is useful in this respect, at least. Find out where it is in the sky with one of the many Astronomy Apps available for cellphones. What night it occurs on is irrelevant if there is no chance to observe the comet. It will be in Earth’s sky by the end of September.