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Asteroids are black and hence invisible small celestial bodies. Comets are quite similar objects while the core is additionally surrounded by ice giving them a dirty snowballs appearance. During perihelion comets exhibit a glowing coma and tail when the ice is heated up by the sunlight and becomes gaseous. Both asteroids and comets are remains of solar system development 4.5 billion years ago. After Earth’s intense bombardment during the development of our planet an enormous number of these objects still remained in space. These projectiles still frequently cross Earth’s orbit sometimes with fatal consequences for life on Earth. Mass extinctions due to these impacts repeatedly killed up to 90% of the living species – a reoccurring evolutionary crisis. However, the majority of comets and asteroids are near-miss events so that we can enjoy them. Only few have seen the comet Hyakutake over northern Germany in February 1996 due to permanent cloud overcast. Only the endurance of the nighttime excursions and fast assembling of astronomical mount equipment allowed this 10 minute exposure of the comet in the constellation Ursa Major. Already ten minutes after this photo was made the fog prevailed again.

February 1996
Pentax Me, Pentax 50mm, f/1.4, 10min, Purus astronomical mount, Kodak E6, ISO 400, tripod,
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Where Geoscience Meets Art

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