Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Comet Could Be Among Largest Ever, Visible Now on Oregon, Washington Coast

Published 07/01/22 at 4:45 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Comet Could Be Among Largest Ever, Visible Now on Oregon, Washington Coast

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; some specials in winter
In Cannon Beach:
Includes rentals not listed anywhere else
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Some specials for winter
In Lincoln City:
Some specials for winter
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
Some specials for winter
In Newport:
Look for some specials
In Waldport
Some specials for winter
In Yachats, Florence
Some specials for winter
Southern Oregon Coast Hotels / Lodgings
Reedsport to Brookings, places to stay; winter deals

(Astoria, Oregon) – What could be one of the largest comets this civilization has ever seen is on its way to the skies above you, and in fact can already be seen on the Washington coast and Oregon coast. Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) requires at least binoculars, however, because it's quite dim, but can be seen in the southern skies. Already, plenty of amazing photographs of it have been taken by amateur astronomers and pros alike. (Photo courtesy NASA / Hubble Telescope)

Comet K2 is expected to be closest to Earth on July 14, and by then NASA and other astronomers believe it could be even bigger than it is now. That's no small feat: right now, the coma – or clouds of dust and gas comprising its tail – is at least 81,000 miles in diameter. That's as big as Jupiter and roughly ten times the size of Earth. Scientists think the tail may well be 500,000 miles long.

To add another number into the mix: it's about 17 million miles from Earth right now, and will get its closest to the sun sometime just after July 14.

Comets are full of surprises as they get closer to our sun, and Comet K2 is living up to that promise – and then some. What scientists are really amazed by is that it is so active so far out in the deep, colder regions of space. Normally, gas and dust clouds erupt and create what we're already seeing as they get warmed up by the sun. But something different has been happening all along with Comet K2: when it was first spotted in 2017 at some over one billion miles away, it was already getting bigger.

Location of Comet K2 on August 13, courtesy Eddie Irizarry/ Stellarium.

David Jewitt, a University of California researcher with the Hubble Telescope (which first spotted K2), said it's an extraordinary and unusual chunk of rock and ice. Its behavior is puzzling: it's too cold to be erupting with gas and ice and thus acquiring that fuzzball around it. Jewitt said the theory is there's some kind of sublimation going on there: which is where a substance transfers directly from a solid state into a gaseous one.

Then there's the pure size of the thing: how much bigger will it get? The largest comet ever recorded was C/2014 UN271 (Bernardinelli-Bernstein), which has a nucleus bigger than the state of Rhode Island. Scientists theorize that Comet K2's center could be anywhere from 11 to 100 miles around.

While K2 can be seen anywhere in the world, and certainly in Washington or Oregon inland, the Washington coast and Oregon coast have much less light pollution. Telescopes will be preferable to spot it, but as the comet draws nearer you should be able to see it with binoculars in the southern sky. Look for it around the constellation Ophiuchus.

Dark skies will be an important factor in seeing it, which gives the Oregon coast and Washington coast some edge. Desert regions or open space green areas of the inland portions of the PNW will work as well.

Sadly, it won't be visible with the naked eye.
Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - South Coast Hotels - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours


Below: photos of Oregon coast at night, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

Coastal Spotlight

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Oregon Coast Fin Whale Update: Sick, Weathered Orca Attack, Fishing Gear
A rare find, attacked by orcas, fishing gear, and very sick. Marine sciences

UPDATED: A Rare Stranding on Oregon Coast, Fin Whale Washes Up Near Seaside
About 40 feet, it washed up at Gearhart

April 2024 Partial Solar Eclipse Coming to Oregon Coast, Washington Coast
On April 8, between 11:20 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., in and around 23 percent. Sciences

Valentine's Day Romance Packages Abound on Oregon Coast: from Food to Stays
Enticing freebies, discounts, swag, food to stunning scenery. Specials, hotel specials

Are the Kooky Little Pyrosomes Coming Back to Oregon Coast? New Sightings
There's still a sizable amount of scientific mystery behind them. Marine sciences

Seaside Celebrates 125 Years of Being N. Oregon Coast Hotspot
On February 17 the town turns 125, celebrationg at the museum. Seaside events

Increased Sneaker Wave Threat Along Oregon Coast, Washington Coast Today Thro...
A strong westerly swell will facilitate a high threat of sneaker waves

Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast Decommisioned in Ceremony at N. Oregon Coast's A...
One of the last remaining Reliance-class medium endurance cutters

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on Oregon Coast Beach Connection
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright Oregon Coast Beach Connection. Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted