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.

February 6, 1997
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Comet Hale-Bopp Returns
Credit and Copyright:
P. Cusinato, A. Dimai and D. Ghirardo (Col Drusciè Obs.), AAC

Explanation: Comet Hale-Bopp has returned from behind the Sun. In December and early January, Comet Hale-Bopp was too near the Sun to be easily visible from Earth. Now the comet graces the morning sky and is visible from dark locations even without binoculars. The above photo was taken on January 31st and shows the two emerging tails of Comet Hale-Bopp. The blue wisp pointing up is the ion tale, while the white fuzz is the dust tail. On its trip to the inner Solar System, Comet Hale-Bopp is once again showing signs it could brighten in the next few months to become the most spectacular comet in modern times.

Tomorrow's picture: M1: Filaments of the Crab Nebula

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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&: Michigan Tech. U.