A New Comet is Going To Brighten Our Skies This Summer

One of the things astronomers look forward to the most is comets these can be beautiful sights in the night sky and have a habit of popping up when you least expect it.

A new one has been approaching the inner solar System from the Oort cloud for a while now, well I say new but it has been on its way for a few millions of years now. But it is now starting to grow larger and brighter in our skies. By July the 14th it will be within 1.8 astronomical units of the Earth and be shining at magnitude seven, however it will only get closer.

The comet's name is C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) and is already record breaking because it is the furthest a comet has been seen while being active with a tail half a million miles long and a coma almost the size of Jupiter.

The comet is staying near the star Cebalrai in the constellation Ophiuchus, by mid-September it will cross the horizon for northern hemisphere observers. Then for southern hemisphere observers it will potentially become a naked eye visible comet at magnitude six in December this year under very dark skies.

Already having such a large coma hopefully will mean that C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) significantly brightens and becomes a naked eye comet. Over the next few months of 2022 you should be able to see this comet in a small telescope from about June for northern hemisphere observers and using averted vision you should hopefully be able to see unusually large coma the comet has and a hint of a tale.

In the episode below you get to see a movie of the comet moving against the background stars, as well as showing the position of the comet in the night sky over the coming months.


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