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 1, 1996

Hyakutake, Big Dipper, and Observatory Dome
Credit and Copyright: Vic Winter, Courtesy ICSTARS

Explanation: In one of the more spectacular pictures yet taken, Comet Hyakutake is shown here on March 26 high in the dark Missouri sky. In the foreground is Elmcrest Observatory complete with a dim red light glowing inside the dome. The stars in the background moved slightly during the exposure causing them to appear as streaks instead of points of light. Nevertheless, the constellation of Ursa Major - including the Big Dipper - is visible. Can you spot it? (Hint: Hyakutake's tail flows through the Dipper's handle.) Photographs with both recognizable foreground and background objects visible can be quite striking as they add angular perspective and contrast to the outworldly and unfamiliar comet. Dare anyone try to compete with city lights and capture the Eiffel Tower or the New York skyline in front of the comet?

Tomorrow's picture: Atlantis Approaches Mir

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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.