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Comet Hale-Bopp Update



Sky & Telescope News Bulletin
February 28, 1997

According to veteran observer Charles Morris, on the morning of February 28th Comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) was magnitude 0.5 with a gas tail stretching some 20 degrees and a dust tail half that long. Morris says the comet was then significantly brighter than it had been just two days before. A prominent fountain coming off the nucleus and its resulting dust plume are easily visible in binoculars. And now that the Moon has waned itself away, early morning views should be excellent. To see Comet Hale-Bopp you'll need to be up at least an hour before sunrise. You'll find it above the east-northeast horizon, to the lower-right of the bright star Deneb in the constellation Cygnus.


Comet Hale-Bopp glows in the east-northeast before the first light of dawn this week. Go out an hour and 40 minutes before sunrise (find your sunrise time in a local newspaper) and look well below Deneb. The comet may equal Deneb in brightness! It should thus be visible even in very mediocre sky conditions. Look for a fuzzy "star" with a short, broad tail. Light pollution in your sky will diminish what you can see of the comet, especially the tail. But binoculars will give a fine view under any conditions.

Hale-Bopp will brighten in the dawn for the next couple of weeks. By March 21st its best viewing time will have shifted to evening right at the end of twilight, when the comet will glow in the northwest. That's where it will be when at its best, from late March through mid-April.

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