A Pretty Pair of Fuzzies

Comet Ikeya-Zhang and M31
Comet Ikeya-Zhang and the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) make a pretty pair in this image acquired on April 4th. Although not visually obvious, the comet sports a (blue) gas tail as well as a dust tail. North is up.
Courtesy Gerald Rhemann.
On April 4th Comet Ikeya-Zhang paid a visit to the Andromeda Galaxy's neighborhood. This pretty sight was observed and photographed by amateur astronomers worldwide.

Observers report that the comet's brightness is holding steady at magnitude 3.5 or so. The tail extends some 4° or 5° from Ikeya-Zhang's coma.

Until mid-April the comet will remain very low in the northwest to north after dusk. However, it can now be seen a little higher before dawn than in the evening. Use Sky & Telescope's interactive sky chart to plot the comet's path during April and May. Although the chart is set for 3:00 a.m. April 9th at 40° north latitude, remember that you can change your location and/or viewing time by clicking the appropriate "change" button on the chart. Note that when twilight is too bright, the sky chart will not show the comet as being visible. For updated comet positions, a finder chart, and recent historical details, see John Bortle's Comet Ikeya-Zhang article.

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