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Comet Tempel 2

Comet 10P/Tempel

Discovery in 1873 by Wilhelm Tempel, this is the second comet to bear his name (the first being Comet Tempel 1, discovered seven years earlier). Comet Tempel 2 is an unusually dark body, as chemical reaction on its surface, driven by ultraviolet light from the Sun, have created a dark sheen over the surface of its nucleus. The nucleus is estimated to be some 11km in diameter.

This is a short-period comet that orbits the Sun in just five years, remaining within the inner part of the Solar System. At the most distant point of its orbit, Comet Tempel 2 reaches a point nearly five Astronomical Units from the Sun, approaching the orbit of Jupiter. At perihelion - it's closest approach to the Sun - it comes within about 1.4 AU. This brings it close to Earth's orbit, but never closer to Earth than some 0.4 AU (or about sixty million kilometres).

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