Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD)Comet Hyakutake Finder Chart for Early April
During April Comet Hyakutake heads in toward the Sun after passing the Earth. At this time the comet's orbit places it north of the Earth. Remaining visible in the northern sky as it nears the Sun, it will set progressively earlier in the evening.
An Extreme UltraViolet View of the Comet
As the Sun floods Comet Hyakutake with ultraviolet light gases in the coma scatter the radiation and fluoresce making the comet a bright source in the ultraviolet sky. The above image made using data...
The Colors of Comet Hyakutake
The colors of Comet Hyakutake are caused by the action of sunlight on the dust and gas produced by the warming nucleus. The microscopic dust particles reflect sunlight while the sun's ultraviolet radiation excites and ionizes the gas molecules causing them to glow or fluoresce in a range of visible colors.
Near the Nucleus of Hyakutake
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of the near-nuclear region of Comet Hyakutake on March 25 as the comet approached within 9.3 million miles of the Earth. It covers a relatively "small" 2,000 mile wide area with the sunward direction toward the lower right (tailward is upper left).
How Much is That Comet in the Window?
The above true-color photo taken March 25th shows Comet Hyakutake passing below the stars of the Big Dipper. Many astronomy enthusiasts delight in helping people in their local community see the comet. Both Jerry Bonnell and I (RJN) from APOD have been so inclined - both now and when Comet Halley came by in 1986.
What are Comet Tails Made Of?
The tail of comet Hyakutake, visible in this recent color image, is composed of dust and gas driven off the icy comet nucleus by the Sun's heat and blown away by the solar wind. Bathed in solar ultraviolet light, the gas molecules break down and are excited, producing a characteristic glow.
Comet Hyakutake Passes the Earth
This picture of Comet Hyakutake taken the night of March 21/22 in Illinois, USA shows the enormous tail that has already developed. The silhouette on the right is a foreground tree, and the superposed green circle on the left shows the size of the full moon.
Comet Hyakutake's Closest Approach
The above true color image of Comet Hyakutake was taken the night of March 21/22. Tonight, Comet Hyakutake will make its nearest approach to Earth, closing to a mere 10 million miles as it passes over the planet's Northern Hemisphere.
Comet Hyakutake's Past and Future
The above false-color picture of Comet Hyakutake taken just two days ago shows its rapidly developing tail. The comet now has a substantial coma with a bright center, lending it a dramatic eye-like appearance. This is not Comet Hyakutake's first visit to the inner Solar System.
Where to See Comet Hyakutake
People the world over are preparing to witness the closest approach of the brightest comet of the past twenty years. Comet Hyakutake, discovered just two months ago, will pass nearest the Earth Monday morning. All during the coming week, Comet Hyakutake will be visible in the northern sky as an unusual extended fuzzy patch.