Pencil on paper drawing of Comet Kohoutek made by Astronaut E. G. Gibson during the Skylab 4 mission towards the end of 1973. The comet was discovered in early March 1973 and was predicted to become a major celestial event since it was believed to be a primordeal comet on its first passage into the inner solar system. Accordingly, NASA launched "Operation Kohoutek" to take coordinated observations from many locales including space, and timed the third Skylab mission to occur when Kohoutek was predicted to be closest to the Sun, at perihelion, when changes in the comet were expected to be most violent and revealing of its structure, and when it was most difficult to observe from Earth. Gibson, the science specialist and pilot for the third manned Skylab visit, is a solar physicist and focused on the astronomical experiments. He took the opportunity to observe the comet visually through different windows in Skylab during the 84-day mission, supplementing electronographic images taken by various Skylab telescopes.
The full suite of over a dozen drawings and renderings was split between the space science collection and the art collection after it was donated by the Aerospace Corporation. This drawing, labeled "day 365" represents the comet near perihelion.
Gift of the Aerospace Corporation