Giant Comet K2, twice the size of Mount Everest, is just a few days away from making its closest pass to earth. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reveals all.
Comet C/2017 K2 ( (PanSTARRS) is heading towards Earth and is likely to make its closest pass to Earth on July 13, 2022. Interestingly, skygazers will be able to watch it via a small telescope. It is said to be one of the farthest active comets ever spotted. As shared by Space.com, Comet K2 will make its closest approach to earth at around 11:09 p.m. EDT (0309 GMT July 14). According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it will be 1.8 astronomical units from our planet at that time. For the unversed, an astronomical unit is the average distance between the earth and the sun i.e, about 93 million miles or 150 million kilometers.
Though the distance seems very far from the earth, the Comet will be bright enough to be visible through binoculars or telescopes. As predicted by EarthSky, it might get as bright as magnitude 7, and hence it will be well within reach of telescopes or binoculars. Skywatchers will see a fuzzy patch of light around the C/2017 K2’s nucleus. The report also says that it may get even brighter after close approach to our planet as it will move nearer to the sun.
Comet K2 was first discovered in 2017 hurtling somewhere between Saturn and Uranus reveals the PanSTARRS survey instrument in Hawaii. Now, it is estimated to be in the inner solar system at around 27.7 crore kilometers. As per the astronomers, C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) has been traveling from the Oort cloud to the inner solar system.
What is Oort Cloud?
According to NASA, the Oort Cloud is the most distant region of our solar system that is home to a huge number of comets. It is believed to be a giant spherical shell made of icy pieces of space debris the size of mountains and sometimes larger that surrounds the solar system.