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Painting Gallery: Asteroids and Comets

479 - Centaur Asteroid Pholus.455 - Visit from a Comet.
479 -- Centaur Asteroid Pholus. Pholus is a remote Centaur asteroid in the outermost part of the solar system. In the mid 1990's, I was a co-author of one of the first papers to show that this object has a much redder color than any other asteroid known until that time. The red color, almost as red as Mars, is believed to be due to the organic compounds synthesized on the asteroid's surface from methane ice (CH4). (Copyright William K. Hartmann).
455 -- Visit from a Comet. View of a large comet near the sun, revealed during an eclipse of the sun, viewed from Earth orbit. Painted in the Canary Islands for an exhibit there. (Copyright William K. Hartmann).
346 - View of the Nucleus of Halley's Comet309 - "Asteroid" 2060 Chiron Passing Saturn
346 -- View of the Nucleus of Halley's Comet. I based this view on a photo by the European probe Giotto, but I "sharpened" it up and added some new gas jets venting from the interior. In other words, this the what the nucleus might have looked like a week after the encounter, with a better camera. (Copyright William K. Hartmann).
309 -- "Asteroid" 2060 Chiron Passing Saturn. An object cataloged as an asteroid when it was discovered in the 1970's, Chiron was discovered to be a comet by D. Tholen, D. Cruikshank, and the artist when they observed it brighten in 1988 during observations at Mauna Kea Observatory. Orbital studies show that it passes Saturn about every 10,000 years, which may deflect it into the inner solar system, closer to Earth. (Copyright William K. Hartmann).
344 - View from the night side of a comet nucleus352 - A Trojan asteroid.
344 -- View from the night side of a comet nucleus. 344 View from the night side of a comet nucleus. The coma of a comet has a high surface brightness (witness that some have been visible in daytime and dusk skies). Thus, the night side of an active comet would be illuminated by a fairly strong flow from the coma. In this view, we are looking in the anti-solar direction, down the comet's tail. This produces apparent convergence of streamers toward the anti-solar direction. These include the blue-glowing streamers of the ion tail, and the more diffuse pinkish streamers of the (somewhat offset) dust tail. The black shape in the middle is the diffuse shadow of the peanut-shaped comet nucleus, cast through the dust of the coma. To my knowledge, this 1991 painting is the first and only time these effects in the night sky of a comet nucleus have been painted. (Copyright William K. Hartmann).
352 -- A Trojan asteroid. These asteroids are located at 5 A.U. from the sun, in the same orbit as Jupiter. They are located at two semi-stable positions in Jupiter's orbit, 60 degrees ahead of, and behind, the planet. They tend to drift around these positions, sometimes coming closer to the planet. In this view, one such object has drifted to within about 1 A.U. of the planet. Thus, Jupiter and its four large moons are just barely visible in the distance (upper left). (Copyright William K. Hartmann).

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