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
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.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.