C/2012 K1

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Not to be confused with the comet C/2011 L4 (PANSTARRS) that became bright in March 2013.
C/2012 K1
NEOWISE series of infrared images of C/2012 K1 on 20 May 2014
Discovered by Pan-STARRS
1.8-m Ritchey-Chretien (F51)[1]
Discovery date 17 May 2012
Orbital characteristics A
Epoch 11 August 2014[2]
Perihelion 1.0545 AU (q)[2]
Eccentricity 1.00021[2]
Orbital period several million years inbound (Barycentric solution for epoch 1950)[3]
~700000 yr outbound
(Barycentric solution for epoch 2050)[3]
Inclination 142.43°[2]
Next perihelion 27 August 2014[2]

C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) is a retrograde Oort cloud comet discovered at magnitude 19.7, 8.7 AU from the Sun on 17 May 2012 using the Pan-STARRS telescope located near the summit of Haleakalā, on the island of Maui in Hawaii (U.S.).[1]

The comet started 2014 as a northern hemisphere object. By late April 2014 it had brightened to roughly apparent magnitude ~8.8[4] making it a small telescope/binoculars target for experienced observers. As of 3 July 2014 the comet had brightened to magnitude 7.9.[5]

From 12 July 2014 until 6 September 2014 it will have an elongation less than 30 degrees from the Sun.[4] The comet will come to perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on 27 August 2014 at a distance of 1.05 AU (157,000,000 km; 98,000,000 mi) from the Sun.[2] It crosses the celestial equator on 15 September 2014 becoming a southern hemisphere object.[4]

The comet should reach its peak magnitude of ~6 in mid-October 2014[4][6] when it will have an elongation of around 75 degrees from the Sun. It may be visible to the experienced naked eye observer, but will be much easier to detect in binoculars or a telescope.


  1. ^ a b "MPEC 2012-K36 : COMET C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS)". IAU Minor Planet Center. 2012-05-21. Retrieved 2013-05-05.  (CK12K010)
  2. ^ a b c d e f "MPEC 2014-K54: Observations and Orbits of Comets". IAU Minor Planet Center. 2014-05-26. Retrieved 2014-06-15. 
  3. ^ a b Horizons output. "Barycentric Osculating Orbital Elements for Comet C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS)". Retrieved 2013-05-05.  (Solution using the Solar System Barycenter and barycentric coordinates. Select Ephemeris Type:Elements and Center:@0)
  4. ^ a b c d "Elements and Ephemeris for C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS)". IAU Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  5. ^ Seiichi Yoshida (2014-07-20). "Weekly Information about Bright Comets (2014 July 19: North)". Seiichi Yoshida's Comet Catalog. Retrieved 2014-07-23. 
  6. ^ Seiichi Yoshida (2013-04-29). "C/2012 K1 ( PanSTARRS )". Seiichi Yoshida's Comet Catalog. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 

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