Rare Night Sky Image – A Comet and the Space Station
The Neowise comet is beginning to fade in the night sky. Even as it passes Earth at its closest approach this week, it is farther and farther away from the Sun, which caused the icy debris to melt into the distinctive comet tail. The 3-mile wide comet is getting colder and the tail is beginning to disappear. At the time Mike Daniels was snapping a photo of the comet over the Bitterroot Valley along comes the International Space Station (which people can track oat a number of sites on the internet). A longer exposure caught the ISS as it passed near the celestial object. The space station orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes. Meanwhile, the comet is on a 7,000-year orbit that will bring it back to the Sun.
51 years ago, people were also gazing up at the night sky. On July 21, they were looking to the Moon as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin blasted off in their lunar lander, after becoming the first humans to visit Earth's natural satellite. They joined Apollo 11's main capsule, where Michael Collins was waiting. Three days later they splashed down in the ocean. That was 1969. Following a few more visits concluding with Apollo 17, humans have never been back. But NASA has plans for a return to the Moon with the Artemis Project by 2024.