You must see the most exciting comet of 2022 – here’s how

You must see the most exciting comet of 2022 – here’s how

An icy visitor from afar the Oort Cloud is still visible if you know exactly where to look for it. Comet C/2017 K2 is PanSTARRS. It’s in the name: the comet was discovered five years ago in 2017, an unusually long lead time, even for a long-period comet. Although it (unfortunately) did not enter the Central Solar System, mid-2022 is the best time to see the comet, and its duration also means that – unlike short-period comets – K2 PanSTARRS will remain in the sky for the rest of 2022. .

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows a faint cloud of dust, known as the Coma, around comet C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS while it is still over 2.4 billion kilometers from the Sun, just beyond the orbit of Saturn. NASA/ESA/Hubble/STcI

The comet was discovered by the prolific automated comet hunter the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (PanSTARRS) on the night of May 21, 2017. A distant discovery (16 Astronomical Units-AU) gave astronomers pause: only a comet (s) C /1995 O1 Hale-Bopp (in 1997), and the largest comet C/2014 UN271 Bernardinelli-Bernstein ever seen to be active for so long. This is usually an introduction to a good show.

It is likely that the Comet’s orbit is dynamically new, which explains its tempestuous behavior while it is still far from the Sun. K2 PanSTARRS will reach perihelion 1.8 AU (just beyond the orbit of Mars) later this year on December 19. This passage will shorten their orbit down to “only” 18,000 years, with aphelion out 1400 AU in the distance.

The orbital path of Comet K2 PanSTARRS through the inner solar system. Credit: NASA/JPL

If the K2 PanSTARRS comet entered deep into the inner solar system like Hale-Bopp did in the late 1990s, then we would be in for real time. great show. Ironically, Hale-Bopp gave us about six months on the other side of Earth’s orbit – and still managed to put on a great show. Also, like K2 PanSTARRS, Hale-Bopp’s orbit was shortened (thanks to Jupiter) from 4,200 years (in) to 2,533 years (out).

The Comet In 2022

During the latter half of 2022, PanSTARRS’ Comet K2 transits Ophiuchus and enters Scorpius the Scorpion, crossing the ecliptic plane to the south in late August. This means that observers in the northern hemisphere now have the time to check out comet K2 PanSTARRS before we miss it in the southern sky. In early August, the comet passes high in the south around 9 pm local.

The Comet, Month by Month In 2022

Comet K2 PanSTARRS has already passed several red-letter dates in early July, as it passed 1.8 AU from Earth on July 14 and passed only 25′ from the globular cluster Messier 10 in Ophiuchus, which brought many astrophotographers a. nice photo-op.

Here are the month-by-month dates for the fate of Comet K2 PanSTARRS for the rest of 2022:

(Note: unless otherwise stated, “near” means less than one degree).


4-Enters the constellation Scorpius

21-Passes near the bright star (+2.5 magnitude) Graffias (Beta Scorpii)

24-Nicks the Libra constellation

25-Re-enter Scorpius

26-It crosses the ecliptic plane to the south

31-Passes near the bright star (+2.3 magnitude) Dschubba (Delta Scorpii)


3-Next to the waxing crescent moon

9-Near the +2.9 magnitude star Pi Scorpii

17-Near the +3.8 magnitude star Rho Scorpii

22-The Wolf enters the constellation Lupus

23-Pass near +12th magnitude Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann


11-Passes near the +4.2 magnitude star Theta Lupi

19-Crosses back to Scorpius

31-He crosses into the constellation Norma the Carpenter’s Square


12-Crosses into the constellation Ara an Altóir

14-The galactic plane crosses south

29-Passes near the +4.0 Epsilon Array star


6-Passes near the magnitude +2.8 Beta Array star

7-Close passes of +3.3 magnitude Gamma Array stars

15 – Enters the constellation Pavo the Peacock

19-It reaches perihelion, 1.8 AU from the Sun

In 2023, the comet then falls back by +10th magnitude and remains in the southern hemisphere sky as it recedes into the depths of the outer solar system, not to return again until after (mark your calendars) 20,000 AD

Don’t miss the apparition of 2022 Comet C/2017 K2 as we all await the first “Comet of the Century.”

This article was originally published Earth Today with David Dickinson. Read the original article here.

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