Huge Comet Discovery

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It’s really big, but its vast orbit won’t bring it past Earth.

Spaceweather.com

June 23, 2021: Astronomers have just discovered a comet so big, it might actually be a minor planet. The object is named 2014 UN271. Astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein found it in archival images from the Dark Energy Survey. It appears to be about 100 km wide, 2 or 3 times bigger than record-breaking Comet Hale-Bopp of the 1990s.

Above: A discovery image and orbit of huge Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein

Now for the bad news. Although 2014 UN271 is falling toward the sun, we may never see it with our naked eyes. At closest approach in early 2031, the behemoth comet will be just outside the orbit of Saturn, too far for naked-eye viewing. Some astronomers are estimating a maximum brightness near magnitude +17, about the same as Pluto’s moon Charon.

It’s still an amazing discovery. 2014 UN271 has an extremely elongated orbit stretching from ~the neighborhood of…

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June 25, 2021 at 03:12AM

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