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.

2015 August 18
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Announcing Comet Catalina
Image Credit & Copyright: Ian Sharp

Explanation: Will Comet Catalina become visible to the unaided eye? Given the unpredictability of comets, no one can say for sure, but it seems like a good bet. The comet was discovered in 2013 by observations of the Catalina Sky Survey. Since then, Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) has steadily brightened and is currently brighter than 8th magnitude, making it visible with binoculars and long-duration camera images. As the comet further approaches the inner Solar System it will surely continue to intensify, possibly becoming a naked eye object sometime in October and peaking sometime in late November. The comet will reside primarily in the skies of the southern hemisphere until mid-December, at which time its highly inclined orbit will bring it quickly into northern skies. Featured above, Comet Catalina was imaged last week sporting a green coma and two growing tails.

Tomorrow's picture: winged skyscape

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