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A comet's tail of gas and dust

February 2005: Although Saturn remains the standout target in the evening sky, Comet Machholz makes a strong challenge, glowing bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.
Visible to the naked eye under a dark sky, the latest in a year-long string of nice comets couldn't be placed better for observers in the Northern Hemisphere. Comet C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) can be found high in the northern sky throughout February as it slides slowly down toward the North Star, Polaris. It should glow around 5th magnitude, a bit fainter than the Beehive star cluster (M44) now rising in the east. You'll need binoculars to see it from the city.Like a pop fly in baseball rounding the t...

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