Comet Hale-Bopp

Comet Hale-Bopp

Comet Hale-Bopp on April 8, 1997

Comet Hale-Bopp was a beautiful bright comet that visited the inner part of our solar system in 1997. Designated C/1995 O1, this comet was independently discovered by Alan Hale and Tom Bopp while both amateurs were observing the globular star cluster M70 on the night of July 22, 1995. At the time of discovery, it was still located at the enormous distance of over 650,000,000 miles from the Sun and more than a year and a half away from perihelion (its closest point to the Sun). Very few comets are visible at that distance, even to large professional observatories. Orbital calculations established that the comet had last swung through the inner solar system over 4,000 years ago. On this trip into the inner solar system, the comet's orbit was changed slightly due to the influence exerted on it by the gravitational attraction of certain planets (in particular, Jupiter), and now the comet will return again in slightly more than 2,000 years instead of 4,000.

This is one of my first astrophotos. It is an unguided exposure at prime focus using a Takahashi FS-128 refractor. This comet inspired me to get into astrophotography. This is a 3-1/2 minute exposure on Kodak Super Gold 1000 film. The photo was taken at prime focus with a reducer at f5.9. I was pretty inexperienced at astrophotography. I had not polar aligned the scope when I took this photo (just after sunset). The photo was taken from my backyard in urban Houston with significant light pollution under magnitude 2 skies. A Lumicon deep sky filter was used. The exposure was cut short by clouds.

Constellation: Perseus
RA:02h 53m 21.8s Dec:+40d 28' 22"
April 8, 1997 at 0215 U.T.
Photo by Sid Leach
Houston, Texas.

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