EXACTLY 11 years ago - Halley's Comet put on a NICE show
AND, 20 years ago Comet West was SPLENDID
Comet Hyakutake headed for near earth encounter (.10 AU) on March 25, 1996!
Recent observations are pointing towards a BETTER than expected apparition:
"..possibly mag 0, 30-40 deg tail.." (!) John Bortle
"..intrinsically the BRIGHTEST comet in 400 years.." Brian Marsden
WELL, as it turned out, Hyakutake had nearly an 80 degree tail (possibly longer) during close-earth approach! There was observable variation on the timescale of 1 hr (or less) -- visually & photographically! Since the comet was so close to earth.
Comet Hale-Bopp headed for near earth encounter (~1.0 AU) late March, 1996!
Recent January observations are pointing towards an expected INTERESTINGapparition:
"..nearly 10 degree visual tail, with moonlight [Jan 31]" (!) Charles Morris
"unusually high degree of activity latter half of 1996, while up to 4 AU out. Most comets show this only at distances of .75 AU or less"
"..intrinsically the BRIGHTEST comet THIS century.."
"initial discovery put comet beyond orbit of Jupiter; was 250 times brighter than Halley at equipvalent distance (!)"
"an estimated 40km diameter nucleus; of 500 known long-period comets, only 10 are known to be 20km or bigger -- most are 1-10km. Hale-Bopp is estimated to be 10 times the size of Halley's Comet"
WELL, check back. We will see in coming months..
NOTE: still under construction! More archival images waiting to be posted -- Comet Levy, Comet DeVico, Comet Swift-Tuttle, Comet McNaught-Russell... Check back later.