Big Breakup: That's the way the comet crumbles

By Ron Cowen, 15:54 PM April 15, 2008

Scores of telescopes are watching a comet fall apart, and the main show may be only beginning. The comet has already fragmented into at least 59 pieces and may continue to break up as it reaches its position closest to the sun on June 6. In mid-May, the chunks will venture within 11.7 million kilometers of Earth—the closest any comet has come to our planet in 20 years—and the largest fragments should be visible with binoculars.

Called Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, this body passes near th...

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