Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

April 23, 1996

Comet Hyakutake on a Starry Night
Credit and Copyright: Vic Winter, Courtesy ICSTARS

Explanation: It was a starry night in April (April 9th, 1996, 9:32 pm CDT to be exact) near Lone Jack, Missouri when Comet Hyakutake graced this astronomically rich field. Making an appearance as the brilliant evening star, Venus is overexposed at the far left. Just below Venus and slightly to the right, the Pleiades star cluster (M45) glistens. On the right hand side of the image, the comet itself shows a bright blue tail extending upwards past the nearby star cluster in the constellation Perseus (top right, the Alpha Persei Group). Hyakutake, receding from the Earth and appoaching the Sun, will sink into the western horizon at sunset in late April, disappearing from Northern Hemisphere skies.

Tomorrow's picture: Giant Cluster Bends, Breaks Galaxy Images

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.