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  • Rapt in Awe

    My Journey through the Astronomical Year

    Think of this as a "companion text" to this, the main web site. Not required reading, butI hope you'll find it interesting and helpful.

NASA close up of Comet Hartley 2

NASA got some closeup snapshots today of COmet Hartley 2, as well as scientific measurements.

Two things standout for me – the experience of seeing this comet in telescope and binocular when it passed within 11 million miles of Earth – and then seeing it from a spacecraft just 435 miles away. The second was how the gas and dust that we see comes from individual jets on the comet surface as the picture clearly reveals.  Keep in mind  the comet itself as pictured is just 3/4 of a mile long – far too small to be seen with backyard telescopes. We see the outpouring from these jets and that outpouring creates a clouds of gas and dust larger than Jupiter and that’s what we see in our puny instruments from Earth..

For more details, see this story.

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