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Sky spying.

You don't need high-tech gear for sky-watching. Donald Machholz, a stargazer from California, used a backyard telescope to discover a new comet (celestial body made of ice and dust that circles the sun).

Machholz's comet, named C/2004 Q2, is speeding toward Earth in a long oval path around the sun. During its closest flyby early this month, the comet may be visible even without a telescope. The sun's heat vaporizes (converts to gas) the comet's ice. This gas reflects (bounces back) sunlight, causing the comet to glow.

Scientists aren't sure how bright the comet will be this month. But all eyes will be on the winter show.
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Title Annotation:Space/Comets
Author:Carney, Elizabeth
Publication:Science World
Date:Jan 3, 2005
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