Comet Hyakutake!

On March 24th, 1996, I went in search of Darkest Texas to view and photograph Comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake). The place I found was Burnet County Road 401, just South of Texas 71.

In that place, beyond Austinschein (the glow of Austin's night life), and in the midst of the only clear patch of sky to come near in several days (and for the foreseeable future), the seeing was excellent! After Moonset, the comet shone forth gloriously--easily the brightest thing in the sky. And even before, in a clear sky it was no harder to spot than the quarter Moon.

The head of the comet was near the Big Dipper's handle, just moving into Draco. With my eyes fully adapted, I could easily see the tail extending as far as Beta Coma Berenices, at least 25 degrees of arc. I estimated it was at least as long as the Big Dipper from its lip to the tip of its handle! The best view was with my own normally-corrected eyes, but I also tried 7X50 binoculars and a Celestron C90 scope.

I also got photos! They don't compare with the real thing, but as I write this the real thing is behind a humongous pile of murky clouds, and receding rapidly.

Enough already, click the following thumbnails to view JPEG images of my two best pictures:

Blue-enhanced photo-composite, about 15-degrees across. 2-minute exposure.

"True" color photo (allow for film and scanner losses). 1-minute exposure.

Both photos were taken at about 6:00 GMT, 25 March, on Fuji ISO400 35mm color print film through a fixed 125mm f/2.5 lens. Times and timings are very approximate.

Distribute freely, but if for some reason you want to use them commercially, E-mail me first for permission. Enjoy!

Visits to this page since 9 February 2002:
Original page established: 27 March 1996
Marcus Brooks -- 13 April 1996