Observers: David Fideler, Andy Harwood
Location: Ionia State Recreation Area, Saranac, Michigan
Date: February 13, 1997 10:50 UT
Time and date: February 13, 1997, 5:50 AM local time (10:50 UT), before astronomical twilight.
Viewing location: Ionia State Recreation Area, Saranac, Michigan (about 20 miles east of Grand Rapids).
Viewing conditions: Cold, visually crisp, dark skies; temperature: -5 degrees F.
Observers: David Fideler and Andy Harwood. Drawing by David Fideler.
Naked-eye magnitude of comet: Approximate brightness of Polaris (mag 2.02). It was brighter than any of the stars in Cygnus or Lyra, excepting Deneb or Vega.
Length of tail: Up to two degrees visible by naked eye; the first degree was bright. Three degrees easily visible through binoculars.
About the illustration: The drawing shows what the coma looked like through an 80mm f/5 refractor with a 26mm eyepiece coupled with a 2x Barlow lens. The bottom of the image is east and the image is mirror-reversed as I saw it, so the left side is south. The area shown is perhaps 1/2 degree of the sky.
The comet had a distinct parabolic shape and was very bright and crisp. The most prominent detail was an extremely bright jet that projected from the pseudonucleus on the left (south) side. This jet, which emerged from the nucleus as a sharp, bright line, extended along the tail and made that half of the tail about twice as bright as the north side. The dot to the left of the pseudonucleus is a star.
The comet seemed to have a slight bluish cast to me at the beginning of astronomical twilight, but it appeared golden to my observing partner Andy Harwood.
We made notes about the comet on a small tape recorder while observing. This is my first astronomical drawing -- made upon returning home -- and accurately shows how the jet brightened the south half of the tail. The picture was made using drawing pencils; the pseudonucleus, jet, and star were highlighted with black ink. The greyscale drawing was scanned and then reversed to show the comet as it appeared against a black background. Due to bad weather, this was our first observation.
This drawing may be reproduced as long as credit is given. -- David Fideler
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