Astronomy Picture of the Day

A Year of Spectacular Comets

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A Year of Spectacular Comets


Two spectacular comets graced Earth's skies during 2007.

Both comets became bright enough to be
seen by the unaided eye of the casual
sky enthusiast.

Early in 2007,
Comet McNaught grew brighter than
any comet in 40 years, displaying a
beautiful dust tail that flowed across the sky.

Comet McNaught (c/2006 P1) became known as the
Great Comet of 2007,
sported unusual striations in its expansive
dust tail,
and showed unexpectedly
complex chemistry in its
ion tail.

Toward the year's end, normally docile and faint
Comet Holmes
brightened suddenly and unexpectedly to naked eye visibility.

Comet 17P/Holmes
stayed bright for weeks even though
lies beyond the orbit of Mars.

No distant
comet in recent history has remained so bright for so long.

In this view, a white
Comet Holmes was photographed in early December posing with the
Heart and Soul Nebulas.

APOD presents: Astronomy Pictures of the Year for 2007

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