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Letters to the Editor

Look for the comet

When the comet Hale-Bopp was discovered well beyond the orbit of Jupiter in July 1995, astronomers knew they had an exceptional comet.

I have seen Hale-Bopp a number of times in the predawn morning sky.
The comet is on track for a Perihelion pass April 1st.
As the comet nears the sun, a comma developes and clouds of gas and dust expand into the vacuum of space. Hale-Bopp will be delivering an impressive naked-eye show, especially away from light-polluted sites. The darker your sky is, the better.
Light pollution is the nemesis of comet viewing.

Try to get away from any glaring local lights and give your eyes plenty of time to adapt to the dark. Where to find comet Hale-Bopp? – In the North Northeast, one and a half hour before sunrise, 20° to 30° above the horizon.
It should be outshining all other luminaries in the sky except for the last quarter moon and Jupiter, which is low to the East-Southeast.

A well-developed dust tail extends up to 15° or longer across the predawn darkness.

By then the comet will be getting lower in the northeast as it moves to the left.
But by now the comet is well up in the evening sky too!

amateur Astronomer
_March 1997

article was wriiten for the Waynesboro news paper in Waynesboro, VA