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.

May 5, 1997
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Sunset with Hale-Bopp at Keck
W. Keel (U. Alabama in Tuscaloosa)

Explanation: A famous star cluster and observatory highlight this picture of Comet Hale-Bopp. Taken last week from the observatory summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea Volcano, the dome of the new 10-meter Keck II telescope appears silhouetted on the lower left. Comet Hale-Bopp is visible on the upper right, and the Pleiades star cluster is visible below the comet. Normally sunset and clouds are to be avoided when making astronomical observations, but Comet Hale-Bopp is not a normal astronomical object. In fact, were it cloudless, Professor Keel would be inside NASA's nearby IRTF dome preparing to observe something else. Comet Hale-Bopp continues to look impressive, although it is fading and moving towards the south.

Tomorrow's picture: NGC4039: Starbirth from Galaxy Death

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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.