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Fideler Image of Comet Hale-Bopp


Observers: David Fideler, Andy Harwood
Location: Lake Michigan, Pentwater, Michigan
Date: April 1, 1997 02:00-03:00 UT

Viewing conditions: Clear, dark skies; limiting magnitude, 6.5; temperature: near freezing. The zodiacal light was visible -- as was some sky glow near the low horizon from Chicago and Milwaukee, across Lake Michigan.

Photographic details: FILM: Kodak Ektachrome P1600; CAMERA: Pentax K1000 on stationary tripod; LENS: 50mm; EXPOSURES: About one minute. Photos processed for brightness, contrast, and sharpness in Photoshop; the cyan in the photos was increased to bring out the detail of the blue ion tail.

This was our best observing session, under very dark skies. My observing partner Andy Harwood and I could visually trace the dust tail 12 degrees to Theta Cassiopeiae; the blue ion tail reached upward 18 degrees -- in both cases, considerably farther than you can see in the photos. Thanks to the dark skies, this was the first time that we could see the gas tail by naked eye observation. The comet had a slightly bluish tint to the naked eye, but through an 80mm refractor it was golden with a definite olive-green tint. The coma appeared much more pointed through the telesope than it has on previous occasions. As a bonus, we saw the zodiacal light for the first time ever and Mercury hovering above the western horizon as we drove toward the observing site.

David Fideler /

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