MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Comet Kohoutek orbital path. Illustration of the orbital paths of the Earth and Comet Kohoutek as the comet reached perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on 28 December 1973. Comets are icy bodies from the outer solar system that boil and form a bright tail of gas and dust as they approach the Sun. Comet Kohoutek (also known as C/1973 E1, 1973 XII, and 1973f) was a long-period comet on a hyperbolic trajectory. It will not pass through the inner solar system again for 75,000 years. It is named after Czech astronomer Lubos Kohoutek, who made the first sighting of the comet on 7 March 1973. This illustration shows the direction of the orbital motion for the Earth and the comet (arrows), and gives dates for the positions shown. For unlabelled versions, see images C038/3767, C038/3768 and C038/3770.
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