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.

March 14, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Comet Hale-Bopp's Developing Tails
A. Dimai & D. Ghirardo (Col Druscie Obs.), AAC

Explanation: Comet Hale-Bopp is living up to its expectations. Besides the brightness of its coma, a comet is typically remembered by the length of its tails. As visible in the above picture taken last week, Comet Hale-Bopp's blue ion tail shows a dramatic extension, with current reports of about 20 degrees from dark locations. The comet's white dust tail has so far shown a more modest extent but appears to be growing significantly. Comet Hale-Bopp's closest approach to the Sun occurs in about two weeks, and although it will not get much closer to the Sun than does our Earth, Comet Hale-Bopp is likely to tell even more spectacular tails then.

Tomorrow's picture: The Milky Way's Center

< Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD >

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