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Image: PanSTARRS

Science News

Coolest comets

Cast your eyes on pictures featuring PanSTARRS, Hale-Bopp and other crowd-pleasing comets.

 / Updated 28 PHOTOS

Making memories

Photographer Chris Cook and his son watch Comet PanSTARRS from First Encounter Beach in Eastham, Mass., on March 13. The photograph was taken via remote shutter release. Even though PanSTARRS has passed its peak brightness, the comet can still be seen by Northern Hemisphere observers after sunset in the western sky.

Chris Cook
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Double delight

Comet PanSTARRS twinkles amid the glow of the northern lights over Lempaala in central Finland on March 17.

Pasi Hakala
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Image: The comet PANSTARRS is seen next to the waxing crescent moon off the western coast of Southern California, in Los Angeles

Spectacular pairing

Comet PanSTARRS takes its place next to the waxing crescent moon in the skies over Los Angeles on March 12, 2013. The pairing of the comet and the moon made for one of the year's best opportunities for astrophotography.

Gene Blevins / X01685
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Out of the blue

Comet PanSTARRS and the crescent moon loom over a mountaintop row of wind turbines near Mojave, Calif., on the night of March 12, 2013.

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Image: PanSTARRS Comet Over Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas...

The comet PanSTARRS, above and to the left, passes over the Stratosphere Casino Hotel along with a waxing crescent moon at twilight over the Spring Mountains range on March 12, 2013 in Las Vegas.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images North America
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Image: PanSTARRS and Parkes

Dishing up a comet

Comet PanSTARRS is just one of many comets that have made a big impression over the past couple of decades. John Sarkissian, operations scientist at the Parkes Radio Observatory in Australia, captured this view of PanSTARRS hanging in the sky over the Parkes Radio Telescope on March 5, 2013. The telescope was made famous in a movie from 2000 titled "The Dish."

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Streaking over New Zealand

Minoru Yoneto captured this picture of Comet PanSTARRS shining over Queenstown, New Zealand, on March 2, 2013. The comet's tail has two components, consisting of glowing gas and shining dust. Yoneto told that "it's a splendid appearance."

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PanSTARRS over Puerto Rico

Rufus Canty shared this picture of Comet PANSTARRS on March 5, 2013. "From Puerto Rico, looks awesome," Canty said in a Facebook message.

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A veteran's view

Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy captured this view of Comet PanSTARRS on Feb. 9, 2013. Lovejoy has discovered several comets, including the 2011 "Christmas Comet" better-known as Comet Lovejoy.

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Desert delight

Comet PanSTARRS shines in the sunset skies over the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile. Photographer Mike Theiss shared the photo on March 7. For more from Theiss, visit the Extreme Nature website.

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Over the mountains

Comet PanSTARRS shines above a mountain range in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The picture was taken on Feb. 26, 2013, by Ushuaia photographer Victor Gabriel Bibe.

Victor Gabriel Bibé
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Fanning out

Comet PanSTARRS glows with a fanlike tail in this Feb. 15, 2013, picture from Argentine astrophotographer Ignacio Diaz Bobillo.

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South African sighting

Dieter Willasch snapped this picture of Comet PanSTARRS on March 2, 2013, from Somerset West in South Africa.

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Image: Comet Lovejoy

Christmas comet

Comet Lovejoy glows in a picture taken by NASA astronaut Dan Burbank from the International Space Station in December 2011.

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Image: Colin Legg picture of Comet Lovejoy

Catching the tail

Australian photographer Colin Legg captured this photograph of Comet Lovejoy's tail flaring up from the horizon just before sunrise on Dec. 21, 2011.

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Image: Comet Lovejoy from Chile

Comet amid the Milky Way

Comet Lovejoy streaks through the pre-dawn skies above the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile on Dec. 22, 2011. The stars of the Milky Way can be seen scattered in the heavens.

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Image: McNaught C/2009 R1

Marvelous McNaught

Skywatcher Michael Jäger of Stixendorf, Austria, took this photo of Comet McNaught C/2009 R1 on June 6, 2010, while the comet was visible in the northeastern morning sky.

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Image: Comet Siding Spring

Streaking superhero

Comet Siding Spring C/2007 Q3 appears to streak across the sky like a superhero in this infrared image from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The comet was discovered in 2007 by observers in Australia. This image was released on Feb. 17, 2010.

Spitzer Space Telescope
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Comet Lulin is seen in the early morning sky during this half-hour time exposure photographed with a 300 mm telephoto lens on Monday, Feb. 23, 2009, in Stedman, N.C. The lens tracked the comet during the exposure. This rendered background stars as short streaks. On Monday at 10:43 p.m. EST, Lulin will be 38 million miles from Earth, the closest it will ever get, according to Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near Earth Object program. (AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, Johnny Horne)

Looking at Lulin

Comet Lulin is seen in the early-morning sky during this half-hour time exposure, photographed with a 300mm telephoto lens on Feb. 23, 2009, in Stedman, N.C. The camera tracked the comet during the exposure. This rendered background stars as short streaks.

Johnny Horne / The Fayetteville Observer
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Colors of the coma

Comet Hartley 2, also known as 103P/Hartley, exhibits a green coma as well as a reddish tail in this Oct. 21, 2010, picture from British astrophotographer Nick Howes. The coma is the haze of dust and gas that surrounds a comet's nucleus.

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Image: Comet McNaught over Chile

Swirl in the sky

Comet McNaught C/2006 P1 was one of the most photogenic comets of recent times. After making quite a show in the Northern Hemisphere in early January 2007, the comet moved south and developed a long and unusual dust tail that dazzled Southern Hemisphere observers. This view shows Comet McNaught above Santiago de Chile.

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The McNaught Comet is seen from Dunedin in New Zealand

Down Under, up above

Comet McNaught C/2006 P1 flares in the skies above Dunedin in New Zealand on Jan. 18, 2007. The comet was named after its discoverer, Australian astronomer Robert McNaught.

Stringer/new Zealand / X01244
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The McNaught comet as seen early morning

Lighting up the night

Comet McNaught's long tail spreads across the early-morning sky above Pucon, about 500 miles south of Santiago, Chile, on Jan. 19, 2007.

David Lillo / AFP
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Image: Comet Holmes

Hazy Holmes

A wide, hazy coma surrounds the nucleus of Comet Holmes in this picture from Nov. 12, 2007.

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Comet Holmes, 17P, taken Nov 1, 2007 on excellent night. Taken with A&M 105mm apo refractor at f/5 with Borg 0.85x compressor/field flattener on SkyWatcher HEQ5 mount. Canon 20Da camera at ISO400. Composite of 4 min, 2min, 1min, 30sec, 15sec, and 7 sec exposures, each exposure being a stack of 3 to 4 identical exposures. Registered and stacked in Photoshop (HDR mode did not produce usable result, so manually composited with sucessively smaller masks to reveal short exposure content around nucleus. Contrast exaggerated with Curves to bring out very faint tail structure. North up, so tail to the S and SW.Nucleus is dot at upper left of inner coma, other star in inner coma at right is a field star

Glow of a comet

Comet 17/P Holmes glows in a picture taken Nov. 1, 2007, by astrophotographer Alan Dyer in southern Alberta, Canada. The observations were recorded through a 105mm apochromatic refracting telescope at f/5 with a Canon 20Da camera at ISO 400.

Alan Dyer
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Image: 2001 RX14 (Linear)

The long tail

A long-period comet called 2001 RX14 (LINEAR) streaks streaks across the sky in an image captured in 2002 by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey's telescope in New Mexico.

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This image of comet Hale-Bopp taken in Northamptonshire was taken in March 2007 using a Canon SLR camera with a timed exposure of approx 40 seconds

Hail, Hale-Bopp

Photographer Jamie Cooper captured this view of Comet Hale-Bopp from Northamptonshire in England in March 1997, using a Canon SLR camera with a timed exposure of approximately 40 seconds.

Jamie Cooper
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Flaring over Fuji

Comet Hale-Bopp streaks over 12,388-foot (3,776-meter) Mount Fuji, Japan's highest mountain, on March 31, 1997.

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