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Sky & Telescope News Bulletin - April 13, 1996



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.


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!

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