Sky & Telescope News Bulletin - April 13, 1996
COMET HYAKUTAKE AFTER DARK
The Great Comet of 1996 continues to put on a fine showing in the northwest
after evening twilight. In fact, Comet Hyakutake may be a touch brighter
now than a week ago. Observers report a total magnitude between 2 and 2.5,
with a tail anywhere from a few degrees to 30 degrees long -- depending on
the darkness of your sky. The comet is roughly the same distance from the
Earth and Sun this week, about 90 million kilometers, and if predictions
hold it should brighten as it continues to draw near the Sun. Perihelion
is not until May 1st. But geometry is already taking its toll, and
midnorthern observers will need to track the comet down within an hour or
two after sunset for best viewing. Right now Comet Hyakutake is in
southern Perseus, forming a broad triangle with Capella higher up and
dazzling Venus farther south east.
APRIL 14 -- SUNDAY
SEE COMET HYAKUTAKE THIS WEEK. The comet should begin to rebrighten slowly
even as it descends toward the northwestern horizon right after dusk.
Just as twilight ends, look west for bright Venus. Holding your fist at arm's
length, look for the comet almost three fist-widths to Venus's right and
(depending on your latitude) a little below. Will the comet develop a longer
dust tail in the coming days? Binoculars give a fine view!
Comet 1996 B2 Hyakutake Home Page