This is the beautiful Comet Hale-Bopp as it approached Earth in March of 1997.
The solid portion or nucleus of the comet is made up of ice, frozen gases, dust and small rock. Compared to most comets Hale-Bopp is very large - about 35 kilometers in diameter. As its orbit brought it closer to the sun, the frozen mass began to melt and a coma, which is a gaseous cloud, developed around the nucleus. This coma has grown to be hundreds of thousands of miles in diameter. Finally the tail developed which became millions of miles long.
This color photo reveals both the reddish-cream color dust tail, and the many long blue streamers of the ion tail.
** All photos can also be seen in the "Gallery"
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