On June 20, amateur astronomer Jose Chambo captured an image of comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) using a telescope in Atacama desert in Chile. This is the most distant in-bound, active comet that has ever been discovered. Nasa has shared Chambo’s portrait of the comet on their website. The comet was discovered in May 2017 by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii. It is currently about 3.3 billion miles (5.3 billion km) from the Sun and is travelling at a speed of around 37,000 mph (59,000 km/h). The comet is expected to reach its closest point to the Sun (perihelion) in May 2019. After that, it will begin its journey back out into the depths of space. Chambo’s image shows the comet’s nucleus, which is about 3 miles (4.8km) across, and its coma, a halo of gas and dust that surrounds the nucleus. The coma is illuminated by sunlight reflecting off of the dust particles that make up the coma. The blue-green colour of the coma is caused by carbon monoxide molecules that have been excited by ultraviolet light from the Sun.
In late May, comet c/2017 K2 will make its closest approach to Earth, coming within approximately 3.6 million miles of our planet. This comet was first discovered in 2017 by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii. At the time of its discovery, it was already on its way out of the solar system and is currently the most distant known active comet. Comet c/2017 K2 is what’s known as a long-period comet, meaning that it takes many years to orbit the sun. This particular comet takes approximately 11,500 years to complete one orbit. While it won’t be visible to the naked eye, stargazers with binoculars or a small telescope may be able to catch a glimpse of this rare celestial event.