On the cover, a giant comet appears like its heading past the Earth. The scene is deceptive. No matter which direction a comet is traveling, its tail always points away from the Sun. This comet is actually moving sideways like a high speed race car in a four wheel drift, sliding around a hairpin turn on a race track. It is moving very fast and heading almost directly toward the Earth. Its nucleus is a chunk of rock and ice only sixty kilometers wide but the coma surrounding it is a misty cloud of dust and ice that is larger than the sun. It is still two months away, yet it is visible during the day and already appears ominously larger than the Moon. The comets rocky nucleus will barely miss us as it passes very close to the Earth, but its gigantic ice filled coma will easily engulf both the Earth and Moon together all at once. The Earth will soon be passing through a monstrous hurricane of ice and dust. We will find ourselves deep inside the coma of a giant comet and also deep in a cataclysmic disaster.
The cover art is a composite of four separate photographs from the NASA archives, including; the Earth, the Moon, a star field, and the great comet Hyakutake. Hyakutake was actually a relatively small comet, although its tail was half a billion kilometers long. I could not resist upgrading it to a giant for this story’s cover page. Its sleek classic form makes it is the most beautiful comet I have ever seen.