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How to See the Giant Comet Heading Our Way Now

How to See the Giant Comet Heading Our Way Now

One of the largest comets known is near to zip by our planet on the only trip above the inner solar system it will make during our lifetimes. 

Five days ago, the Hubble Space Telescope spotted a spacious comet at the farthest distance ever, as it was approaching the sun from way out between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. Now, that giant space snowball is coming in for its closest pass by Earth this Thursday.

Comet C/2017 K2 will be at its nearest prove to us on its current swing above the inner solar system on July 14. Even at its closest, however, it will still be farther away from us than the denotes distance between Earth and Mars. This will likely make it pains to see the comet without at least a slight telescope, despite its substantial stature. 

There’s a significant amount of uncertainty at this prove around just how big the comet’s nucleus is, according to NASA solar controls ambassador Eddie Irrizarry and Kelly Kizer Whitt in EarthSky, with different observations suggesting a range between 11 and 100 a long way (18 and 161 kilometers) wide. That means C/2017 is somewhere between just legitimately big and plus the handful of biggest comets discovered so far, like Hale-Bopp and Bernardinelli-Bernstein

The size of the comet’s tail, or coma, is alike massive and unclear. Early observations suggest the trail of dust and gases tedious C/2017 K2 is anywhere between 81,000 and 500,000 a long way (130,000 and 800,000 kilometers) across. So, somewhere between the width of one and six Jupiters — that’s an utterly epic trail. 

To see the comet for yourself, you can look to public online observatories like the Virtual Telescope Project that will host witness parties this week. You can also get your shapely on a telescope and start practicing spotting objects now comical an app like Stellarium, which will also be able to explain your lenses in the right direction as the comet comes closer. 

After it passes us, C/2017 K2 will disconclude on toward perihelion on December 19, which is its closest pass by the sun, afore heading back out toward deep space. Comets tend to helpful unpredictably the closer they come to the sun. This one could suddenly obtain more active and brighter, or it could break apart and move from view altogether.

Whatever happens, this visit will liable be our only chance to get acquainted with this comet. Its orbit is so long that it won’t be back for a few million years.