Comet Hale-Bopp was first discovered on July 22-23, 1995,
by Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp. Comets are named after the first person or persons
to discover them.This comet was found simultaneously by both men on the same night.
The two dates occur because of a one hour time difference in thier locations.
The comet was actually photographed in April 1993 by an observatory in Australia
but no one recognized at that time what it was.
Astronomers began watching the comet to determine it's orbit. From this data they knew that the comet had last orbited the Sun in 2213 B.C. Because of a close approach to Jupiter in April 1996, which changed the orbit of the comet, it will not return again until about 4300 A.D.
Dust and gasses make up the tail. It is estimated to be 1.5 million miles wide and 60 million miles long. The tail is blown away from the sun by the solar wind. The comet itself is estimated to be 25 miles in diameter. Comets have been described as dirty snowballs. The white tail you see in the photographs is made up of dust, and the blue tail is made of ionized gas. In late April 1997 the comet developed a third tail made up of sodium being burned off from the comet.
Comet Hale-Bopp is probably the largest, brightest comet ever seen by man. On January 3 of each year it is predicted that there will be a meteor shower associated with the comet as the Earth passes through the comet's dusty tail. We can only wait and see.
The speed of the comet was 98,000 miles per hour at it's closest approach to the sun on April 1, 1997 3:15 u.t. (This is 10:15 Eastern time on March 31, 1997.)
The comets closest approach to the earth was 122 million miles on March 22.
That day there were 39 people in Rancho Santa Fe, California who took their lives to join the "Companion" a UFO they believed was traveling with comet Hale-Bopp.
Photographic information All photos were taken with Olympus cameras and lenses. Exposure times ranged from 20 seconds up to eight minutes. The Camera was mounted piggy back atop a Bausch & Lomb Criterion 4000 four inch Schmidt Cassigrain telescope to utilize the stellar drive to correct for the Earths rotation.
All photographs to date were taken in Springville Indiana. The film used for the photos was Kodak Royal Gold ISO 1000. Processing and enlargement was done by Cord Camera in Bloomington Indiana.
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