A Very Big Comet is Getting Closer

The comet named C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) was first spotted by earth observation in 2017 at a spectacular distance of 1.5 billion miles from the sun. Five years later, as it approaches the sun, it will be closest to earth on July 14. The comet will still be several million miles away, but you can already see it with a small telescope. Even after it passes by, we should still be able to observe it from our backyards into September.

C/2017 K2 is big. The nucleus is believed to be at least 11 miles across, with some estimates putting it at 18 or more miles wide. However, the biggest comet we've ever seen is comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein, estimated to be 84 miles wide, but that one won't come nearly as close to earth. If you have a telescope and want to look for comet C/2017 K2, here's a viewing guide with star charts. -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: Chuck Ayoub)

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