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.

October 3, 1997

Comet Halley and the Milky Way
Credit: Kuiper Airborne Observatory, NASA

Explanation: Comet Halley was photographed superposed in front of the disk of our Milky Way Galaxy in 1986 by the Kuiper Airborne Observatory. Comet Halley is the bright white streak near this photograph's center. Comet Halley is the most famous comet in history, and returns to the inner Solar System every 76 years. Stars visible in our Milky Way Galaxy typically lie millions of times farther in the distance and orbit the Galactic center every 250 million years. Billions of comets are thought to orbit our Sun but most do not get close enough for us to see. Similarly, billions of stars orbit our Milky Way's center but do not get close enough for us to see.

Tomorrow's picture: In the Center of 30 Doradus

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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.