NASA / SOFIA / LYNETTE COOK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SOFIA / LYNETTE COOK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Comet C/2012 K1. Illustration of Comet C/2012 K1 and its coma during its first approach into the solar system. Earth is at top left. Comets are icy bodies from the outer solar system that boil and form a bright tail of gas and dust as they approach the Sun. This retrograde Oort cloud comet was discovered in May 2012 using the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii. It reached perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun) on 27 August 2014. Its peak brightness as seen from Earth was magnitude 6.9 in October 2014. Observations of this comet were made with SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy).
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