Megacomet K2 caught on camera cruising through celestial equator

Comet C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS was captured on June 18, 2022 in constellation Ophiuchus at magnitude 9.7. (Image credit: John Chumack/

A megacomet glows in the dark in this long-exposure image captured by an astrophotographer on June 18, before its closest approach to Earth.

Comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), called K2, will swing by our planet on Wednesday (July 13) nearly twice as far away from Earth as our planet is from the sun. But the comet, which may be much as 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide, is still spewing enough dust to show in the view of telescopes.

"Look for a six-inch coma," advised John Chumack of, who found the massive comet in the constellation Ophiuchus from a dark location in Yellow Springs, Ohio. (A coma is the cloud of gas and dust a comet shoots out as the sun warms its surface and causes particles and molecules to rise into space.)

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At the time Chumack photographed the comet, it was at the celestial equator in constellation Ophiuchus. It was visible in both a six-inch reflector and an eight-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, he added. 

But the beauty shot came from a slightly larger 12-inch F4 Newtonian reflector, Chumack added. Other equipment involved in the 31-minute exposure included a Bisque ME mount and a modified Canon 6D DSLR camera.

Chumack estimated K2 had a magnitude of 9.7 when he caught it on camera, and EarthSky estimates the comet may get as bright as magnitude 7 by the end of 2022. By comparison, magnitude 6 is about the dimmest stars available to your naked eye, although the comet would be more difficult to see as it is diffuse.

If you're looking for binoculars or a telescope to see the comet in the night sky, check out our guide for the best binocular deals and the best telescope deals now. If you need equipment to capture the moment, consider our guides for the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography to make sure you're ready for the next comet sighting.

Editor's Note: If you snap a photo of the comet and would like to share it with's readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: