Comet Hale-Bopp, October 15, 1996   HOME INDEX BACK NEXT

Comet Hale-Bopp was discovered on July 23, 1995 by two amateur astronomers, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp.  Observing from different locations, both happened to be looking at the globular cluster Messier 70 when they noticed a faint object, about magnitude 10.5, near the cluster.  Checking their charts and catalogs, they learned that no other deep-sky object was in the vicinity, so they realized the object they were observing was a comet. One week later, when I heard about the discovery, I observed the comet with my 18-inch Dobsonian telescope.  It was not very bright at the time, but judging by its distance and its projected path, comet experts were predicting that it could become a very bright comet when it approached the earth in the spring of 1997.

This is my first photograph of Comet Hale-Bopp, taken when it was still very far from earth.  The lens I used magnified the image 10 times compared to the standard 50-mm lens used on many cameras.  The comet is small but bright, and it has a fan-shaped tail.   The round fuzzy object in the upper left corner of the picture is the globular cluster Messier 14 in the constellation Ophiuchus.  At this magnification, the cluster is too small to be resolved into individual stars.


More of my pictures of Comet Hale-Bopp, all taken on Kodak Gold 1000 film, are shown in the next few images.

Image details:  A 120-second exposure on Kodak Gold 1000 film, taken with a Canon camera and a telephoto lens at a focal length of 500 mm.