Thursday, September 6, 2012

floating comets

last night i was reminiscing with a fellow astronomer about watching comets hyakutake and hale-bopp hanging in the sky for weeks in the late 1990s.   she and i were both teenagers then and felt fascinated by the experience.  we agreed that the events were key influences inspiring each of our careers in astronomy.  

this photo, of comet lovejoy and the earth's atmosphere, was taken by astronaut dan burbank while aboard the international space station in december 2011.

Photo Credit: Dan Burbank

early next year, keep an eye out for news on comet pan-starrs, which might become bright enough to see with the naked-eye.   it's fairly difficult to predict what maximum brightness comets will reach because we don't know how much ice they contain.

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