Thursday 16 July 2020

Comet C/2019 K7 (Smith) makes its closest approach to the Earth.

Comet C/2019 K7 (Smith) makes its closest approach to the Earth on Thursday 16 July 2020, reaching a distance of 3.65 AU from the Earth (365% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun, or 545 930 000 km). At this distance the comet will be not naked eye visible, having a magnitude of 16.0, which means a fairly powerful telescope would be needed to spot it, in the Constellation of Sagitta, which is visible from anywhere on Earth outside the Antarctic Circle, although it is best seen from the Northern Hemisphere.

Comet C/2019 K7 (Smith) imaged on 1 September 2019 using a 60 second exposure of from a 345 mm telescope. The comet is the point at the centre of the image indicated by the two yellow lines. Stars are slightly elongate due to the length of the exposure, which tracked the comet.
Toshihiko Ikemura/Hirohisa Sato/Seiichi Yoshida.

Comet C/2019 K7 (Smith) was discovered on 30 May 2019 by astronomer Ken Smith using the Atlas MLO Telescope at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The designation C/2019 K7 (Smith) implies that the object is a comet (C/), that it was the seventh such object discovered (7) in the second half of May 2019 (period 2019 K) and that it was discovered by Smith.

The orbit and current position of C/2019 K7 (Smith). The Sky Live 3D Solar System Simulator.

C/2019 K7 (Smith) is a Parabolic Comet, which is to say a comet that has been disrupted from an orbit in the Oort Cloud, and to be passing through the Inner Solar System on a parabolic orbit that will probably not bring it back again. This parabolic trajectory tilted at an angle of 103° to the plain of the Solar System.
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