To infinity and beyond (ish) this week to celebrate a great traveller - Comet Hale-Bopp
. It was discovered between Jupiter and Saturn 23 years ago tomorrow by US amateur observers Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp (hundreds of miles apart and on the same day).
If so, then all four such comets for the Northern Hemisphere in the past 50 years were best seen in March and April: Comet Bennett in 1970, Comet West in 1976, Comet Hyakutake in 1996, and Comet Hale-Bopp
Among other notable headlines, the comet Hale-Bopp
made its closest approach to earth; Channel 5 broadcast for the first time; we said "eh oh" to children's TV favourites, the Teletubbies; and the first Harry Potter book was published.
But this probably won't be as bright and visible as 1997's Comet Hale-Bopp
, said Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory in Washington.
"I would suggest it will be as bright or a little brighter than Halley's Comet but not as bright as Comet Hale-Bopp
. You will need a pair of binoculars to hand and look in the east and then increasingly in the northeast.
Comet Hale Bopp puts out 21 Comet Hale-Bopp
puts out 21 million tons of gas and dust - 50 times more than most comets.
came with time to prepare for its brightest phase in spring 1997.
The extremely bright comet Hale-Bopp
, discovered in 1995, last buzzed Earth in March 1997, when out of frenzy, thirty-nine people, part of a religious group called Heaven's Gate, committed suicide, believing that a UFO riding the comet's wake would rescue them from a doomed Earth.
Similar particles were detected coming off comet Hale-Bopp
when it journeyed into the inner solar system in 1997 (SN: 7/29/00, p.
1997: The comet Hale-Bopp
reached its closest point to earth.
While they may not be as impressive as Comet Hale-Bopp
was in April 1997 (seen here over the Rocky Mountains near Banff, Canada), their presence will afford many astrophotography opportunities.
Reading the images approximately from left to right, following the numbered order suggested in the gallery's handout, one came across celebrities from the '90s (the aforementioned supermodel Moss, the simian Britpop group Supergrass); several examples from Tillmans's series on the Concorde, seen wonderingly from the ground; more unearthly wonder in a glimpsed view of the comet Hale-Bopp
; and, printed massive, a view of the artist's then-boyfriend, the painter Jochen Klein (who died of an AIDS-related illness in '97) taking a quiet bath.