Cometary Activity Campaign for September 2022

Unistellar is currently extending our citizen science programs to comets. The new Cometary Activity is currently at the beta stage, and will evolve and improve over the coming months, thanks to your feedback.

Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) is currently on its approach to the Sun. C/2017 K2 is visible now and expected to stay that way throughout the summer! In September, C/2017 K2 will become a southern hemisphere only object.

Quick facts about C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS):

  • Its closest approach to Earth was on July 14th, 2022
  • The coma on C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) is massive, with a diameter nearly as big as Jupiter!
  • At the time of its discovery C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) was the furthest active comet. It was already active at a distance of 16 AU from the Sun!

You can find C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) in the Unistellar app’s database.

To observe C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS):

  • Follow the HowTo Guide for A. The comet is in the app’s database and you’re observing it via the Science Observation mode
  • In the Recording field, enter the following information for

    Exposure time: 3971 ms
    Gain: 25 dB
    Duration: 20m 00s
  • At the end of the acquisition, record a dark frame with the dust cap on.

View of the orbit of comet C/2017 K2 as it passes through the solar system. Video provided by Tony Dunn.

View of the comet C/2017 K2 as seen from Earth. Video provided by Tony Dunn.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was only just discovered in March and is scheduled to reach perihelion January 2023. Currently, it is unknown if this comet has passed through the inner solar system before. Be sure to watch for this icy interloper!

Quick Facts About C/2022 E3 (ZTF):

  • C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is currently on a hyperbolic orbit, so it’s on track to escape our solar system (if it survives the trip).
  • C/2022 E3 (ZTF) predicted to reach a peak magnitude of 6! That’s almost visible with the naked eye.
  • During perihelion C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will still be 1.1 AU away from the Sun

You can find C/2022 E3 (ZTF) in the Unistellar app’s database.

To observe C/2022 E3 (ZTF):

  • Follow the HowTo Guide for A. The comet is in the app’s database and you’re observing it via the Science Observation mode
  • In the Recording field, enter the following information for

    Exposure time: 3971 ms
    Gain: 25 dB
    Duration: 20m 00s
  • At the end of the acquisition, record a dark frame with the dust cap on.

View of the orbit of C/2022 E3 as it passes through the solar system. Video provided by Tony Dunn.

C/2022 E3 as seen from Earth as it passes through the solar system. Video provided by Tony Dunn.

The comet C/2019 T4 (ATLAS) reached maximum brightness on April 10th. This comet is currently visible low in the evening sky at low latitudes and the southern hemisphere.

Quick Facts about C/2019 T4 (ATLAS):

  • C/2019 T4 (ATLAS) is a long-period comet, traveling from the very edges of the solar system
  • C/2019 T4 (ATLAS) was discovered by ATLAS, or the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System

You can find C/2019 T4 (ATLAS) in the Unistellar app’s database.

To observe C/2019 T4 (ATLAS):

  • Follow the HowTo Guide for A. The comet is in the app’s database and you’re observing it via the Science Observation mode
  • In the Recording field, enter the following information for

    Exposure time: 3971 ms
    Gain: 25 dB
    Duration: 20m 00s
  • At the end of the acquisition, record a dark frame with the dust cap on.

Orbit of comet C/2019 T4 around the Sun, simulation by Tony Dunn.

View of comet C/2019 T4 from Earth, simulation by Tony Dunn.