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THE WEEK AHEAD

PASADENA : Celestial Spectacular

July 12, 1994

Astronomers around the world will strain Saturday for a glimpse of a rare celestial event: the collision between a comet and the planet Jupiter. Several hundred scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena will be involved, including those working with the Galileo spacecraft, which will have the closest view of the event.

For five days, a stream of 21 mountain-sized fragments that form the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 will streak into the giant planet's atmosphere.

Scientists aren't sure what will be visible to Earth-based observatories. But they hope for an interplanetary light show that will yield new insights into celestial cataclysms that have scarred the planets of the solar system over the eons and, on Earth, may have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

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