An Astronomical Monster: Mountain Sized Comet Is Heading Towards Earth

Credit: Pixabay

A comet more than double the magnitude of Mt. Everest has reached our solar system’s innermost reaches and will soon pass by our Earth’s orbit in the summer of this year.

Originally identified by the Hubble Telescope throughout 2017 as Comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), K2 is the name given to this comet. For a while, Comet K2 was thought to be the furthest active comet yet discovered until it was overtaken by Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein in 2013. Scientists estimate that K2 will be 168 million mi (270 m kilometers) from Earth when it comes nearest to us on July 14.

Many public facilities, such as the Virtual Telescope Project, provide live webcasts of comet passage for those without access to a telescope. On the 14th of July, at 22:15 GMT, it will occur. K2 will maintain its trip approaching perihelion, the nearest approach to the sun, when it reaches Earth in July.

Comet C/2017 K2 has been known to astronomers for a long time. However, scientists disagree on the exact size of the comet’s core. In accordance with NASA, the comet’s projected width ranges from 11 to 100 miles (18 to 161 kilometers). Astronomers disagree about the magnitude of the comet’s coma, aka tail. In the wake of C/2017 K2, an anticipated 81,000 – 500,000 miles (130,000 to 800,000 kilometers) of clouds of gas and dust will be left in its wake.

Furthermore, when the comet approached the innermost solar system, it became brighter. Comet Halley is predicted to intensify to a magnitude 8 or 7, but it is still too faint to be observed with the unassisted eye, thus according to, when it comes nearest to Earth on July 14. K2 will be visible via telescopes until the end of summer, when it will move on to its nearest encounter with the sun on Dec. 19.

William Reid
A science writer through and through, William Reid’s first starting working on offline local newspapers. An obsessive fascination with all things science/health blossomed from a hobby into a career. Before hopping over to Optic Flux, William worked as a freelancer for many online tech publications including ScienceWorld, JoyStiq and Digg. William serves as our lead science and health reporter.