||Image Gallery - Comets and Asteroids|
Comets are amongst the most interesting of all objects in our Solar System. Sometimes called "dirty snowballs", they are remnants of the formation of the Solar System. Most of them inhabit a vast cloud far outside the orbit of Pluto. Due to collisions or gravitational interactions, a few get deflected into the inner Solar System. As they approach the Sun, volatile materials such as carbon dioxide boil off and form a tail that may extend for millions of kilometers.
We have in recent years been blessed with two "Comets of the Century". In March, 1996, Comet Hyakutake (C/1996 B2) passed very close to the Earth. This close passage resulted in a tail that spanned half the sky when seen from dark locations. A year later, Comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) was seen in the skies. Hale-Bopp was brighter and smaller than Hyakutake, which made it much more impressive from areas suffering light pollution. From Cloudbait Observatory, however, Hyakutake was a far more impressive comet than Hale-Bopp.
Asteroids are stone or iron debris left over from the formation of the Solar System. Their material may represent failed planets. They are often fragmented from multiple collisions, and are the parent bodies of meteorites.
Finally, I have some images of satellites, space debris, and other man-made objects. I include them here because the technique required to image them is pretty much the same as that for comets and asteroids.