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Vanderhoff Images of Comet Hale-Bopp

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Observers: Dewey Vanderhoff, Andrew Frazier
Location: Yellowstone Park, Wyoming
Date: May 11, 1997 04:05 UT

Comet Hale-Bopp is (literally) in the twilight of its life for us northern hemisphere viewers. Yet spectacular views are still possible with some effort. A trip through Yellowstone Park and northwest Wyoming this past weekend was a joyful curtain call for Comet Hale-Bopp. Our three months of landscape and natural history perspectives on this gregarious comet are now bequeathed to our southern hemisphere comrades.

Photo 1. "The Last Waltz" A heavenly wonder on par with the ice geysers of Neptune's moon Triton and the sulfur volcano's of Jupiter's Io , the renowned Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone Park , Wyoming hosted Hale-Bopp in clear spring skies on Saturday May 11.

Although it is small and faint compared to its stellar performance of just a month ago, Hale Bopp makes a nice dance partner to the geothermal icon. In order to enhance the geyser's steamy plume and column of water, Andrew Frazier beamed a 400,000 candlepower onto it , painting the eruption from a hundred yards away. The photograph was taken with a 55mm "normal" lens at f/2.8 for thirty seconds on Fuji 800.

Taken during late twilight , the photographer was ninety degrees around the bend from the spotlight location to get good textural crosslight. From the time Hale-Bopp became viewable against the dark skies till it set was less than 40 minutes, and only one eruption of the geyser occured during that time.

Photo 2. "The Old Faithful Geyser" Hale Bopp certainly turned out to be the "Old Faithful" of comets...for months we've been able to walk out the door and cast a view to the heavens and let it fall on a fine comet. This past weekend, we took advantage of the opening of Yellowstone Park and some exceptionally warm clear calm weather to make a long-awaited comet run into Yellowstone Park. The Park is only 50 miles from our town, but is inaccessible to vehicles for months at a time due to its wilderness nature and winter snow cover.

The scene here shows Hale-Bopp between the geyser ( which has just completed its main eruption but is still outgassing) and a lone pine. The grossly overexposed 4-day old crescent moon appears at upper left , and the bright star Capella is at the upper right. The trees in the background are lit by the exterior lighting of the 5-story log Old Faithful Inn complex. It was a lovely evening... the plumes of dozens of fumaroles and lesser geysers and hot springs were wafting in the distance on a breathless spring evening. Were it only that the phase of the Moon and the phase of the comet combined to render this scene in its full glory...the comet of a month ago with the fullish Moon yet to come to illuminate the landscape.

Exposure was with a 35mm f/2.0 AIS lens on a Nikon F2AS camera; Super G 800 film for 35 seconds at f/2.8 Andrew frazier lit the geyser plume with the spotlight while I made the image. Taken at 10:05 PM-MDT on May 10 (4:05 UT May 11)

Dewey Vanderhoff
deweyv@trib.com


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