Framed Photo - Comet Hyakutake
"Comet Hyakutake"
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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

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