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 10, 1996

Comet Hyakutake and a Tree
Credit and Copyright: Nick James, Martin Mobberley and Glyn Marsh, The Astronomer Online

Explanation: Comet Hyakutake is still visible as it continues its orbit around the Sun. The comet will brighten again in late April and early May. The above fascinating picture was taken with a three minute exposure. In the middle of the exposure, the photographer cleverly set off a flash, momentarily illuminating the foreground tree. The picture was taken on March 24th from Mount Teide in the Canary Islands, and the recorded tail length was over 50 degrees. Discoverer Yuji Hyakutake, whose last name means "100 warriors" is an amateur astronomer in Japan. Interested in comets since age 15, he discovered this comet while sitting on a rural mountain top searching dark skies with huge binoculars in early morning hours. Originally intending to check up on a comet he had discovered only one month earlier, Hyakutake was initially worried that the new fuzzy spot he had located was not really yet another comet! One unexpected result of his comet discovery is that now his family has trouble making phone calls because their telephone is always ringing.

Information: The Scale of the Universe Debate in April 1996
Tomorrow's picture: Unexpected X-rays from Comet Hyakutake

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