Astronomy Picture of the Day

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

August 26, 1995
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Two Tails of Comet West
Credit: Observatoire de Haute, Provence, France

Explanation: Here Comet West is seen showing two enormous tails that wrap around the sky. The ion tale of a comet usually appears more blue and always points away from the Sun. The dust tail trailing the comet's nucleus is the most prominent. Comet West was a visually spectacular comet, reaching its most picturesque in March of 1976. A comet this bright occurs only about once a decade. Comets are really just large dirty snowballs that shed material when they reach the inner solar-system. Many astronomers are hopeful that Comet Hale-Bopp will look as spectacular as this in the spring of 1997.

Tomorrow's picture: Gamma Ray Bursts from the Unknown

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Astronomy Picture of the Day (TM) is created and copyrighted in 1995 by Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell who are solely responsible for its content.

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