This is the spectacular Comet Hyakutake as it passed closest to Earth in March of 1996.
The solid portion or nucleus of a comet is made up of ice, frozen gases, dust and small rock. And it is relatively small - less than 15 miles in diameter. As its orbit takes it closer to the sun, this frozen mass begins to melt and a coma, which is a gaseous cloud, develops around the nucleus. This coma can grow to be tens of thousands of miles in diameter. Finally a tail also develops which can become millions of miles long.
This color photo reveals the blue-green glow around the coma, the yellow-red shroud of a dust tail, and the many long blue streamers of the ion tail
** All photos can also be seen in the "Gallery"
Phone Orders: (800) 356-1733 - info: (707) 937-2110 - fax: (707) 937-1002