Hairy Star Hale-Bopp

The discovery of this fine comet beyond the orbit of Jupiter has meant that we have had a long time to prepare. At last, Hale-Bopp is a spectacular object in the night sky despite being further away at its closest approach to Earth than the Sun. Here are five images from the past couple of months. The first three images were taken on a barndoor tracker using P1600 Ektachrome processed at ISO 1600. The first image was taken on the morning of February 8th. The exposure is one minute at f2 with a 50mm f1.2 lens.

A month passes before I was able to get out again, thanks to the weather. The next image was taken under a bright first quarter Moon on the evening of March 15th. The comet had recently moved into the evening sky and was still low, lying down on the horizon in the northwest. This is a one minute exposure at f2.8 with a 135mm lens.

After the Moon had set and the comet had risen, an exposure from the morning of the 16th. This is a manually tracked two minute exposure with the 135mm lens at f2.8.

This eight minute exposure was taken on the evening of the 27th of March with a 200mm f2.8 lens on Kodak Elite II ISO 100 slide film. The camera was piggy-backed on our refractor and guided on the comet.

This a slide image taken with our one metre lens, an f8, 127mm apochromatic refractor. This is a 16 minute exposure on P1600 that was only pushed one stop in development to ISO800. It was taken on the evening of April 1st local time.

This is a negative image taken with our one metre lens. This is a 16 minute exposure on Ektapress PJM640. It was also taken on the evening of April 1st local time.

This will likely be the last image of Hale-Bopp. It was taken on the last possible night before the Moon would start to spread its light, 97-05-07. By the time it was fully dark, the comet was already flirting with the horizon. This is an eight minute exposure at f2.8 with a 135mm lens using Elite II ISO100. The blue tail is now hardly visible. I hope there is still some show left for our observing friends in the Southern Hemisphere.

All of these images have been grossly compressed. The original scans are four megabyte medium resolution Targa images. If you would like to see them, I am sure that arrangements could be made to transport higher resolution images.

If you should have any experience or tips for scanning slides and negatives, please send email to the address below, I would be glad to hear from you. Getting a good four meg file, to say nothing of a 100K Jpeg, from a nice slide is not an easy task and the learning curve seems to be steep.

For more information send mail to Mark Kaye at:

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