HALE-BOPP DIARY, 1997
Comet C/1995 01 (Hale-Bopp) was discovered independently on July 23, 1995 by Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp. It reached maximum brightness between March 26 and April 11, 1997. Hale-Bopp is a giant comet, with a nucleus possibly 30 miles in diameter. A long-period comet, it will not return to the inner solar system for over a thousand years.
March 11 1997 Brentford, Midddlesex
A very fine early spring day; cloudless, very mild, hazy sunshine. Daffodils in flower. The Hale-Bopp Comet was visible faintly to the naked eye in the north-west after sunset.
Hale-Bopp Comet was easily visible in twilight at 6.45 p.m. (GMT). It was at least magnitude 2; tail just visible to the naked eye, pointing almost horizontally north.
Hale-Bopp Comet is brighter than on the 12th. The tail is easily visible, pointing north, still only a haze to the naked eye. In a 70 mm. telescope a bright luminous plume extends horizontally from the nucleus.
Hale-Bopp was visible to the naked eye in a hazy sky from Cliffe (Kent), as the last twilight faded. Tail visible.
Hale-Bopp is visible at 6.45 a.m., with a glimmer of twilight. A hazy sky, three-quarter Moon. I thought I could see a very faint tail about half a degree long with the naked eye. I haven’t had a really clear sky yet. Appulse March 23 (123 million miles), perihelion April 1 (about 1 A.U.)
March 18, 7 p.m. GMT. Tail about half a degree long.
Brentford, Middlesex. All views are with the naked eye.
For telescopic views see Hale-Bopp gallery
The best view of Hale-Bopp yet, in a clear sky but with a bright Moon. It now looks like a comet, with a distinct fan-shaped tail and a large bright 1st-magnitude nucleus. A pearly nebulous fan of tail and a very bright condensed nucleus in the telescope.
Hale-Bopp distinct despite a bright Moon and extensive haze (cirrus or cirrostratus).
March 26, 7.20 p.m. GMT.
Hale-Bopp is a fine sight in a partly cloudy evening sky. It is unmistakably a comet, with a very bright nucleus, a bright ’sting’ of a tail, and a very much fainter fan-shaped tail 2 or 3 degrees long. A star is visible in the tail through the telescope.
Hale-Bopp was visible in a very clear sky for a few minutes at 9.40 p.m. The fan-shaped tail seemed much more bright and distinct than on the 26th, although the comet was much lower in the sky.
A very clear sky. The comet was visible at 7 p.m. At 7.30 p.m. the tail was distinct as a faint fan of light. In the telescope, the nucleus is very bright and stellar; the tail is a bright luminous pearly fan extending well out of the view field.
March 29, 8 p.m. GMT
The comet seems even brighter than last night, with a fan-shaped tail curving up to the right. It looks the classic image of a comet in the finderscope, with the luminous fan of the tail streaming away from a starlike nucleus. A star in the tail. Stars surround the comet in the 70 mm telescope field. I thought I could see streamers in the tail near the nucleus.
The sky is hazier than on the 29th, but the comet is still striking.
The comet seems more diffuse tonight. To the naked eye it seems a very bright ‘star’, with a faint diffuse fan-shaped fog of light extending towards the upper left. In the telescope the tail is less fan-shaped, a bright pearly streamer extending from the bright coma and brilliant nucleus out of the view field.
There is little change in the naked-eye view of the comet. Sky quite hazy. In 5x40 binoculars, it appears as a large bright foggy ‘star’ in a spreading palely luminous fan of tail.
Clear sky, no haze. The comet is much brighter than on the 29th, with a fan-shaped tail curving up to the right. To the naked eye, the tail is bright near the nucleus; very faint but visible thereafter; possibly 2 or 3 degrees long.
The comet seems still brighter in a partly cloudy sky at 8.45 p.m. (BST). Twilight in west.
The comet seems about as bright. The tail is perhaps more uniformly nebulous.
April 7, 9 p.m. BST.
Clear sky, high cloud. The comet’s tail seems more extended than last night. The nucleus is at least 1st magnitude, but large and ‘fuzzy’ compared with stars.
The comet seems less bright. Sky fairly hazy. The tail seems less curved and fan-shaped.
April 10, 10.45 p.m. BST
The comet seems less bright. Tail vertical.
Very clear sky. I can’t decide if the comet is any less bright or not. The tail near the nucleus seems brighter, if anything. At 9 p.m. there was a deep blue sky a crescent Moon, and the comet among the stars, larger and more fuzzy, with a plume of tail rising vertically from the bright nucleus.
The comet seems about the same brightness as last night. There is little apparent movement, perhaps it is moving directly away from us.
Hazy. There is little change in the comet.
I can’t say if the comet is any less bright or not. The tail seems more noticeable, if anything, despite a bright first quarter Moon.
I think the comet is somewhat less bright, but still unsure. It is still striking to the naked eye. Tail vertical. A bright Moon.
April 19, 9.15 p.m. BST
The comet seems as bright to the naked eye as on as any night yet, with a vertical fan-shaped tail, despite nearly full Moon. The nucleus is perhaps less bright.
The first look at the comet since the 19th, at 9.30 p.m. There is a glimmer of twilight, with extensive cirrus. The comet is still bright, with a noticeable vertical naked-eye tail.
The comet is very faint at 10 p.m., possibly due to extensive cirrus.
The comet is faint but noticeable, about 10 degrees above the horizon at twilight, 9.30 p.m.