Comet Hyakutake - Close-Up #2
Comet Hyakutake with the Schmidt Camera
This black and white photograph of Comet Hyakutake was taken
with Kodak 4415 4x5 sheet film with
an ASA of 150 with the 10-inch Schmidt camera operating at f/2. This 30 minute guided exposure shows
the motion of the stars, while tracking on the comet's actual movement. This picture was taken on March
25, 1996, and shows much of the fine gas tail streamers, and extensive dust near the head of the comet.
On this particular day, Comet Hyakutake was just under 10 million miles from the earth, making it one
of the brightest near-by comets in centuries. More interesting, but just a thought, imagine if Comet
Hale-Bopp had been this close to the earth, rather than its actual 122 million miles! I think one good way
to describe such a fantastic scenario, would be for you to visualize a comet with its tail all the way across
the sky! I think we would have also been able to see it in the daylight. There could have been times that
we would have seen the tail across the sky before the actual head of the comet rose above the horizon.
Comet Ikeya-Seki of 1965 fame was, in fact, seen in the daylight right next to the sun, even though it was
93 million miles from us. That was a famous sun-grazing comet observed here at Table Mountain as well.
Click 'back' after looking at Comet Ikeya-Seki . The tail of Ikeya-Seki was about 30 degrees long.
Table Mountain Observatory, operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is located just west of the
town of Wrightwood, California at an elevation of 7500 feet.
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