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Comet Hale–Bopp, shortly after passing perihelion in April 1997.

Comet Hale–Bopp (formally designated is a comet that was perhaps the most widely observed of the century and one of the brightest seen for many decades. It was visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months. The comet was dubbed the Great Comet of

Comet McNaught viewed over the Pacific in 2007. Credit: Sebastian Deiries/ESO.

Comet McNaught viewed over the Pacific in By Sebastian Deiries

Credit: John LabordeThis photograph of Comet West, one of the greatest comets of all-time, was taken by amateur astronomer John Laborde. The picture shows the two distinct tails. The thin blue ion tail is made up of gases, while the broad white tail is made up of tiny dust particles.

Photos: Spectacular Comet Views from Earth and Space Spectacular Comet Views from Earth and Space

Figure 149: Comets. A) Comet Halley in Milky Way, February 1986; B) Comet Halley, February 1986; C) Comet West, March 1976; D) Comet Kohoutek, June 1973; E) Comet Ikeya-Seki, November 1965; F) Comet West, computer enhanced; G) Comet LINEAR, July 2000; H) Comet Hale-Bopp, March 1997.

Comets are small, fragile, and irregularly shaped. Most are composed of frozen gas. However, some are composed of frozen gas and non-volatile grains.

Halley's Comet It came by the Earth last in 1986, and will return in 2061. Halley's comet orbits Earth every 76 years. Of the thousands of known comets in the solar system, Halley's comet is one of some 200 that are periodic.

Halley's Comet It came by the Earth last in and will return in Halley's comet orbits Earth every 76 years. Of the thousands of known comets in the solar system, Halley's comet is one of some 200 that are periodic.

Greatest Eclipses and Sky Events in History

Comet Lovejoy, Cape Schanck, about 90 km from Melbourne, southeastern Australia (taken December 24, 2011) © Alex Cherney.

Officially known as comet Lovejoy was discovered by amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy, Brisbane, Australia, in late November Photograph by Alex Cherney

Annual Meteor Showers | FIRE IN THE SKY: Meteor Shower Of Halley's comet

Comet Halley This is an image of comet Halley. Comet Halley takes about 76 years to orbit the sun once.

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