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 23, 1997
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A String Of Pearls
H. Weaver (JHU), T. Smith, NASA

Explanation: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, named after its co-discoverers, was often referred to as the "string of pearls" comet. It is famous for its unusual appearance as well as its collision with the planet Jupiter! The comet's original single nucleus was torn to pieces by Jupiter's strong gravity during a close encounter with the solar system's largest planet in 1992. The pieces are seen in this composite of Hubble Space Telescope images to be "pearls" strung out along the comet's orbital path. In July of 1994 these pieces collided with Jupiter in a rare and spectacular series of events.

Tomorrow's picture: The Weather on Mars
Tonight's Sky Show: Lunar Eclipse, Mars, and Hale-Bopp

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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
&: Michigan Tech. U.