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Vanderhoff Images of Comet Hale-Bopp


Observer: Dewey Vanderhoff
Location: Cody, Wyoming
Date: April 13, 1997 03:31 UT

In commemoration of Astronomy Day, here are four new pix taken Saturday night April 12 in Wyoming. While the weather remains very cold, the sky was clear...our climatological luck is still running strong. The essential elements of good comet photography includes copious amounts of wool.


1) "Pillar and Trees" The Comet hovers over the Black Mountain Obelisk in this scene taken from the edge of the Cody-Yellowstone highway at trout Creek in the Wapiti Valley. Passing cars illuminate the stands of cottonwood trees ( the Wyoming state tree , I might add... ) Exposure was the usual: 45 seconds at f/2.8 on Fuji Super G-800 using a 35mm lens on a Nikon camera. A five day old moon adds enough skyglow to increase the contrast between Black Mountain and the sky without taking too much away from the Hale-Bopp tails.


2) "In the Cool of the Evening " A moody blue nocturne taken from the bank of the Shoshone River in the Wapiti Valley at Hanging Rock as Hale-Bopp descends behind the magnificent Holy City rock massif. That the head of the comet is balanced on the skyline is not an accident... I waited for it. 11,000 foot Monument Mountain is visible further up the river near the eastern boundary of Yellowstone Park...a 5-day old moon backlit this scene with just enough light to bring out the river and the distant snowcovered peak. Exposure was 45 seconds at f/2.0 on Fuji 800 using the stan dard Nikon 35mm lens and camera combination on a Bogen tripod with cable release.

* Confession: I don't really time my exposures precisely or use a watch...I must count them out in my head... really.


3) "The Wraith" taken shortly after the previous image, you can just make out the tail(s) of Hale-Bopp behind the rock formation known as the Clocktower. By the naked eye it was as beautiful a sight as I have seen in the sky in quite a while...very subtle. The tail glow may not show up well on the Internet version of the image. The 5-day old Moon inhabits the trees, and the constellation Auriga is plainly visible. Taken with a wider ( 24mm ) lens than the other images; f/ 2.8 for 45 secs on Fuji 800.


4) "Mir and beautiful blonde " . The evening pass of the Mir space station, seen over my friend Trish bundled in layers of wool as she watches the spacecraft drift over Cedar (Spirit) Mountain from the southeast shore of Buffalo Bill Reservoir near Cody, Wyoming at 3:31 UT on April 13. I lit her with an ordinary flashlight; the glare above her head is a sodium security light in the distance. We spent the evening chasing Hale-Bopp up and down the Wapiti Valley , a good cheap date Wyoming-style. 35mm lens at f/2.0 for about 40 seconds on Fuji 800. Mir's orbit is now phasing away from our location in the evening , and will soon be making only daylight passes over Wyoming before returning to pre-dawn skies in early May.

Dewey Vanderhoff

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