Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured , along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2003 March 6
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Comet NEAT in Southern Skies
Credit & Copyright: Noel Munford (Palmerston North Astronomical Society, New Zealand)

Explanation: After last month's dramatic swoop past the Sun, Comet NEAT (C/2002 V1) appeared as a naked-eye comet, emerging from the evening twilight in planet Earth's southern skies. On March 1st, New Zealand photographer Noel Munford captured this telephoto view of the outbound comet close to the southwestern horizon against the faint stars of the constellation Sculptor. He reports that the picture is a good representation of the comet's visual appearance on that date and estimates the impressive tail to be five or six degrees long. Discovered last November as part of the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking program, there was some speculation that this comet would not survive its close encounter with the Sun. However, Comet NEAT is now returning to the outer solar system, diving southward and fading fast.

Tomorrow's picture: Kilimanjaro

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA / GSFC
& NASA SEU Edu. Forum
& Michigan Tech. U.