Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Bright Comet Graces Northern Skys

An image of Comet Ikeya-Zhang on the evening of Thursday, March 22, 2002, taken by the MicroObservatory telescope in Cambridge. The MicroObservatory project, created by the Science Education group at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, allows students and teachers across the nation to use telescopes over the Internet to take pictures of objects in the night sky.
Boston - Mar 22, 2002
The brightest comet since 1997's Hale-Bopp is currently gracing the western skies of North America. Comet Ikeya-Zhang (pronounced "ee-KAY-uh JONG") was discovered on February 1st by two amateur astronomers in Japan and China, respectively.

Calculations of the comet's orbit by Brian Marsden of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics show that it was last seen in 1661. This makes Ikeya-Zhang the first long-period comet (a comet with a period longer than 200 years) to be identified on its return to the inner solar system.

No telescope is necessary to look at this beautiful visitor as it swings around the Sun and heads back to deep space. The comet has brightened to naked-eye visibility, but is easiest to see through binoculars.

Comet Ikeya-Zhang has a very long, narrow orbit that stretches well beyond the orbit of Pluto. Its last sweep through the inner solar system occurred in 1661. This time around, the comet will pass between the Sun and Earth, with its closest approach to the Sun occurring on March 18th. Click on the image for a high-resolution, publication-quality version. Larry Koehn, courtesy Sky & Telescope.
A casual glance will show the bright, starlike nucleus surrounded by a fuzzy cloud of dust and gas called the coma. The comet's tail streaks away from the Sun, pointing nearly straight up from the horizon.

To find Comet Ikeya-Zhang, look in the western sky shortly after sunset. A red point of light about 18 degrees up in the sky is the planet Mars. (An outspread hand at arm's length covers about 15 degrees, so Mars is a bit higher than one hand-span.)

To the right of Mars are two bright stars in a nearly vertical line. The comet is at the same height as Mars, to the right of the two bright stars about as far again as the distance from Mars to the stars.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists organized into seven research divisions study the origin, evolution, and ultimate fate of the universe.

Related Links
More info at Sky & Telescope
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

Comet "Ikeya-Zhang" Returns 341 Years Later
 Washington - Mar 6, 2002
A comet discovered last month by amateur astronomers is making its first pass through the inner solar system in nearly 3-1/2 centuries. Named Ikeya-Zhang [pronounced "ee-KAY-uh JONG"] for the two keen-eyed skygazers who first spotted it, this cosmic interloper can be seen low in the west, not far above the horizon, as soon as it gets dark.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.