Comet Hyakutake 1996 (wide field view)
Kodak Pro 400 PPF film - 8" f/1.5 Schmidt Camera / telescope
- This is the spectacular Comet Hyakutake as it passed closest to Earth in 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.