55.6 MB (1.5 MB compressed)
5400 x 3600 pixels
45.7 x 30.5 cm ⏐ 18.0 x 12.0 in (300dpi)
FRANK ZULLO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANK ZULLO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS hangs in the evening twilight over the desert west of Phoenix, Arizona. This scene was from March 12, 2013, when the 1-day old crescent moon appeared less than 4 degrees to the right of the comet. Discovered in June 2011 by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, this comet is making its first trip through the Solar System so it was difficult to predict how bright it might become. It did not live up to expectations, becoming barely visible to the unaided eye. Binoculars and photographic images showed it much better. If we ever see this sungrazing comet again it would be in well over 100,000 years.
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