As I am sure all of you know, we have recently been able to see a new but not
permanent additon to the night sky. This addition is known as Hale-Bopp, a comet
that is about 122 million miles (about 1.3 times the distance of the sun to the
earth) from the earth and is approximately 25 miles wide. Hale-Bopp was
discovered on July 23,1995 by two scientists named Alan Hale in New Mexico and
Thomas Bopp in Arizona. This is the first discovery for both of them, although
Alan Hale is one of the top visual comet observers in the world, having seen
about 200 comet apparitions. That is one of the reasons they put his name first.
Alan Hale comments, "I love the irony -- I've spent over 400 hours of my
life looking for comets, and haven't found anything, and now, suddenly, when I'm
not looking for one, I get one dumped in my lap. I had obtained an observation
of P/Clark earlier, and needed to wait an hour or so before P/d'Arrest got high
enough to look at, and was just passing the time til then, and I decided to look
at some deep-sky objects in Sagittarius. When I turned to M70, I saw a fuzzy
object in the same field, and almost immediately suspected a comet, since I had
been looking at M70 last month, and *knew* there wasn't any other objects
Thomas Bopp explains his story like this, "On the night of July 22, 1995
some friends and I headed out into the desert for a dark of the moon observing
session. The site, which is west of Stanfield, AZ and a few mile south of
Interstate 8 is about 90 miles southwest from my home.
My friend Jim Stevens had brought his 17-1/2" Dobsonian. We started the
evening observing some of the Messier objects such as the Veil and North
American Nebulae in Cygnus, when Jim said " Let's look at some of the globulars
in Sagittarius." We started our tour with M22 and M28, observing at 50X and then
at 180X. Around 11:00 local time, we had M-70 in the field when Jim went to the
charts to determine the next object of... [continues]
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