Light Beyond the Bulb

Comet Hale-Bopp Long Island Sound

Comet Hale-Bopp

Image Credit: Donald Lubowich

Comet Hale-Bopp was one of the brightest comets in decades, reaching its closest approach to Earth in 1997. It could be seen across the Northern Hemisphere, and it was visible without a telescope or binoculars for about 18 months. The white tail is due to sunlight reflecting off dust from the comet, and traces the motion of the comet. The blue tail shines as gas from the comet, primarily carbon monoxide, interacts with particles flowing away from by the Sun, and traces the direction of this flow. Here, Comet Hale-Bopp is captured as it appears over the waters of Long Island Sound in New York.

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