A huge comet will fly by Earth in July and you might be able to see it - Space.com
Jun 22, 2022 1 min, 11 secs

A comet first spotted in the distance in 2017 might finally be within view soon of amateur astronomers.

Comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), called K2 for short, was then the farthest active comet ever spotted, a title it recently surrendered to megacomet Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein, detected last year.

The comet began to spew gas and dust in the far outer solar system, whereas it's more typical for comets to wake up around Jupiter's orbit, much closer in.

Related: Giant comet was active way farther from the sun than expected, scientists confirm?

Assuming K2 survives the heated journey and continues to brighten, EarthSky (opens in new tab) predicts people with small telescopes will be able to spot the sojourner soon.

Early observations by the Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) suggested K2's nucleus could be between 18 and 100 miles (30 to 160 kilometers) wide; Hubble Space Telescope observations suggested it might be only 11 miles (18 km) at most, EarthSky said!

— Fragments of a dying comet might put on a spectacular show — or pass by without a trace.

An archival search of CFHT imagery suggested K2 was active at least as far back as 2013, when it was between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, NASA said at the time.

All predictions for comet activity are subject to change, however.

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) since 2012.

and M.Sc (opens in new tab).


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