Sunday 4 June 2017

Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson) approaches the Earth.

Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson) will pass the Earth at a distance of 121 340 000 km (0.81 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun) on Monday 5 June 2017, its closest approach to the planet this year. Sadly the comet will not be naked-eye-visible, achieving a maximum magnitude of about +8.27, which means it should be visible with a small telescope or good pair of binoculars; viewing will be made harder by the Moon at this time, with a Full Moon occuring four days after the comet's closest approach on Friday 9 June.

Image of C/2015 V2 (Johmson) taken on 25 March 2015 from Mayhill in New Mexico using the iTelescope 43-cm reflector. Jean-Claude Merlin/Sky & Telescope.

C/2015 V2 (Johnon) was discovered on 3 November 2013 by Jess Johnson of the University of Arizona's  Catalina Sky Survey, using the 0.68 m Schmidt–Cassegrain Telescope. The designation 2015 V2 implies that it was the 71st comet (comet V2) discovered in 2015.
 The calculated orbit of C/2015 V2 (Johnson). The Sky Live 3D Solar System Simulator.
C/2015 V2 (Johnson) has an unknown period and a highly eccentric orbit that takes it from 0. AU from the Sun at perihelion (60% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun) to an unknown outer orbital point, somewhere beyond the Kuiper Belt, in the Oort Cloud. It is considered to be a hyperbolic comet, an object from the Oort Cloud (or possibly even the interstellar space beyond), that has been nudged onto a trajectory that takes it through the Inner Solar System by an encounter with another Oort Cloud body or possibly the gravity of another star or other extra-Solar System object. Such comets are not expected to make return visits to the Inner Solar System, but rather are thrown out of the Solar System altogether by a gravitational slingshot caused by their close encounter with the Sun.
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