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Vanderhoff Images of Comet Hale-Bopp

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Observers: Dewey Vanderhoff, Mack Frost, Sean Campbell, Andrew Frazier
Location: Wapiti Valley, Wyoming
Date: April 15-16, 1997

Here are some of the results of the last two night's worth of Comet and western landscape photos from Wyoming. Now that the Moon is waxing again, we have the opportunity to illuminate landscapes under Hale- Bopp. Given that the Comet is very cooperative and the weather in Wyoming is exceedingly mild and clear ( how abnormal for April!) , we have hopes of getting some outstanding starscapes in the next few days. We must be the only serious observers on Earth who look forward to more moonlight. So be that as it may -----

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(1) "High Trail to Hale-Bopp " was taken Wednesday evening at the Breteche Creek Ranch Retreat , high in the volcanic ridges above the Wapiti Valley of northwest Wyoming. Operated as a non-profit educational institution based around a classic old Wyoming cattle ranch and high country rangeland, the BCRR is a natural for comet observation, with its fine crisp air and spectacular landscape and views. We arranged a small "star party" there Wednesday to show the folks and friends the Comet, a blazing pass of the Mir space station, and an unanticipated display of crimson and truquoise auroras. The appearance of a magnificent bolide meteor exploding near Hale-Bopp was a nice touch , too.

The photo shows some of the guests leaving...their car lights trailing thru the cottonwoods and aspens along Breteche Creek past the historic (refurbished) Weston Cabin under Hale-Bopp. Jim Mountain and the snowcapped Absaroka Mountains loom in the background, some 12 miles distant across the Shoshone River valley. Landscape was lit by an 8-day old waxing moon ; Fuji Super G 800 captures the scene on a Nikon with a 35mm lens at f/2.8 for 40 seconds. The cabin was partially illuminated by a flashlight to fill in the shadows with a warm glow.

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(2) A closeup of the aforementioned Weston Cabin at the Breteche Creek Ranch Retreat in the high basin above the Wapiti Valley between Cody Wyoming and Yellowstone Park. Taken Wednesday night, April 16 , we set up to observe a spectacular passage of the MIR space station straight up over the cabin and alongside Hale-Bopp , which we captured several frames of (* will post tomorrow...don't want to give the web tribe too much at one time...). The cabin was lit by a small flashlight...the tungsten bulb gives the wood a warm glow on daylighht film Thje bright star straight above Hale-Bopp is Capella in Auriga.

55mm Micro-Nikkor lens on Nikon F2AS ; Fuji 800 at f/2.8 for ....long enough . The clouds of a dissipating layer of snowpack evaporation and afternoon cloud making actually add a nice touch to the scenes. Bretetche Creek Ranch Retreat, operated during summer months, is an outstanding dark sky site with all the amenities.

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(3) "Stonebarn" About 25 miles from of Cody, Wyoming on the eastern end of the McCullough Peaks badlands hills lies the abandoned "Stonebarn" cow camp , over 100 years old and built in the classic 2-story European fashion. It has a limestone first floor for mangers, and a gothic wood second story for a hay loft with a ventilator gable. It is a genuine piece of Old West and Wyoming frontier history, and made for a fine setting for a Hale-Bopp session on Tuesday night April 15.

While we three photographers ( myself, Mack Frost, and Sean Campbell) images the scene, Andrew Frazier painted the barn from 300 yards away atop a small hill, using the 400,000 candlepower spotlight and battery pack I built to do Hale-Bopp fill lighting with...it's daylight filtered with studio gels, and we took meter reading using my Minolta IV-F incident meter....2 seconds per unit of area @ f/2.8 on Super G 800...that's bright! The picture was taken with a 35mm f/2.0 lens stopped down to f/2.8 for 40 seconds, give or take. Cassiopeia is directly over the barn, and the Pleiades are setting at the left edge of the scene. We also observed and photographed MIR this evening as well, rising obliquely over the barn and bisecting Cassiopeia.

Dewey Vanderhoff
deweyv@trib.com


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