Remarkably, the brightest comet of the year is also the target for NASA's next comet probe. On November 4, the spacecraft will fly close enough to Comet Hartley to return images of the nucleus, which should show its shape, possible craters and the sources of the plumes of dust and gas that create the tail of the comet. Formerly known as Deep Impact, the craft delivered the probe that impacted Comet Tempel 1 on July 3. 2005. With that mission accomplished, the spacecraft was redirected to Comet Hartley for a second comet encounter. Images will be returned to Earth during the days following the craft's closest approach to the icy nucleus. To learn more, visit the mission's website at http://epoxi.umd.edu/index.shtml.
This autumn, four of the five naked-eye planets hover close to the Sun, three in the evening sky and one in the morning. The fifth planet, Jupiter, is on the opposite side of the sky and is seen in the southeast and south all night.
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