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Sky & Telescope News Bulletin - February 23, 1996

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Comet Hyakutake Brightens

Reports and images by the dozen are arriving on Comet Hyakutake (1996 B2), which is shaping up to be a really fine sight in Northern Skies. Observers say the comet is already nearing 7th magnitude, and with strong central condensation it's now a fairly easy target in binoculars. Researchers have detected gas flowing out into the coma at roughly 1/2 kilometer/second, in prodigious quantities comparable to Comet Halley's rate a decade ago. All indications so far suggest that Comet Hyakutake is relatively large and not likely to disappoint us. Some observers put the coma's diameter at 10 to 15 arcminutes. It already is sporting two tails, but because the comet is coming almost directly toward Earth these are strongly foreshortened. That also explains why the comet isn't moving much across the sky. (Don't confuse this one with Yuji Hyakutake's first find, 1995 Y1, which reaches perihelion on February 24th.) Here are positions for 0 hours Universal Time:

                 R.A. (2000) Dec.
                 ================
   February 25   14h 49m   -23.7
            27   14  50    -23.4
            29   14  51    -23.0

 
comethome.gif Comet 1996 B2 Hyakutake Home Page

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