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Vanderhoff Images of Comet Hale-Bopp

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Observer: Dewey Vanderhoff
Location: Buffalo Bill Reservoir, Wyoming
Date: May 9, 1997 04:00 UT

The May 8 conjunction of the new crescent Moon and receding Comet Hale-Bopp was spectacular from northwest Wyoming, thanks to exceptionally clear skies and calm conditions. We observed from the eastern shore of the Buffalo Bill reservoir out across some estuaries that captured the reflection of the comet and moon as they descended toward the Absaroka Mountains.

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Photo 1. "Conjunction : Earth Moon and Comet " was photographed with Hale-Bopp less than nine degrees above the true horizon , at 10 PM +/- Thursday May 8 ( UT 4:00 May 9). Since Wyoming skies are relatively pristine, we often see and photograph celestial objects right down to the skylines and horizons. But the Thursday conjunction of the New Moon and Old Comet was especially sweet...seen once in the sky and again as abstract reflections in Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Nikon F2AS with Micro-Nikkor 55 mm f/2.8 lens, wide open for thirty seconds on Fuji 800

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Photo 2. "Earthshine receding " Taken shortly after the above scene, the dark poortion of the crescent Moon is shown slipping over the plateau known as The Crag , located bewteen Jim Mountain and Trout Peak in the central Absaroka Mountains. Although it looks bright here, the earthshine segment of the moon was visually a deep charcoal grey. The comet and moon are reddedned slightly by the lower atmosphere. Same exposure data as above.

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Photo 3. "Fun with Comet " A bit of a frivolous scene. Hale-Bopp was setting over the Beartooth Plateau late Saturday evening May 3rd as seen from the north rim of Polecat bench 20 miles NE of Cody Wyoming. The glowing light on the horizon at right is actually on an eminence above Red Lodge, Montana...so this photo has portions in two states, Wyoming and Montana.

I made a fool of myself with my trusty red military surplus flashlight to add a bit of humour to this scene. Hale Bopp is less than four degrees above the true horizon here...when we observed it actually slip behind the mountain, the nucleus was less than two degrees high, another testimonial to the clearness of Wyoming mountain skies. Nikon camera, 35mm f/2.0 lens at f/2.8 for 30-40 seconds; Fuji 800.

Dewey Vanderhoff
deweyv@trib.com


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