Astronomy Picture of the Day

Here Comes Comet Hyakutake
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Here Comes Comet Hyakutake
Credit & Copyright: Oscar Pizarro, 1-meter Schmidt Telescope, La Silla, Chile, European Southern Observatory
Explanation: The reaction of ancient peoples to the appearance of bright comets has toppled empires, de-throned kings, and been taken as a sign of great things to come. Probably some of these comets did not get as bright as Comet Hyakutake ("hyah-koo-tah-kay") will in the next two weeks. It is likely that every major news organization will soon cover Comet Hyakutake extensively. Comet Hyakutake is shown above already showing a tail of dust. This image, taken directly from a photographic negative, shows stars as black spots and the bright comet coma and tail as dark clouds against the white background of space. During its closest approach to the Earth on March 25th, Comet Hyakutake will appear in the Northern hemisphere as a diffuse ball of light brighter than most stars. Comet Hyakutake will be visible then most of the night even without binoculars, passing above the stars in the handle of the Big Dipper. Comet Hyakutake will be best seen in dark skies far from city lights, where its tail - possibly extending 20 degrees or more - will be most easily visible. As Comet Hyakutake recedes from the Earth it will fade, but brighten again as it nears the sun later in April. At that time it will be best seen in the southern hemisphere. There is no chance Comet Hyakutake will hit the Earth.

Information: The Scale of the Universe Debate in April 1996

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Based on Astronomy Picture Of the Day

Publications with keywords: comet - comet Hyakutake
Publications with words: comet - comet Hyakutake
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