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.
June 28, 1998
Explanation: In 1997, Comet Hale-Bopp became much brighter than any surrounding stars. It could be seen even over bright city lights. Out away from city lights, however, it put on quite a spectacular show. Here Comet Hale-Bopp was photographed last March above Val Parola Pass in the Dolomite mountains surrounding Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Comet Hale-Bopp's blue ion tail was created when fast moving particles from the solar wind strike ions expelled from the comet's nucleus. The white dust tail was composed of larger particles of dust and ice expelled by the nucleus that orbit behind the comet. Observations have shown that Comet Hale-Bopp's nucleus spins about once every 12 hours. Comet Hale-Bopp is still visible to those in the right place with a good telescope.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.