David's Astronomy Pages (Solar System)

Comet Pages by year
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Notable Comets
Bullet Comets This page summarises observations and images of comets and meteors.

For a listing of all Comet images, see Image Database - Comets


- Hyakutake
- Hale Bopp
- C/2000 WM1
- C/2000 SV74
- C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) (2004)
- Comet 73/P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-C (2006)



I've seen 2 naked eye comets - Hyakutake in 1997 and Hale Bopp in 1997/8

Hale Bopp

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Comet - Hyakutake

"as dusk deepened and clouds receded I was able to capture my first ever view of a comet" 
(extract from my observing notebook 1996-Apr-01)

Photo, 1996-Apr-05
More images of Hyakutake

Hyakutake was discovered in early morning of 1996-Jan-31 by Yuji Hyakutake. It passed earth at 18 million miles distance on 1996-Mar-27. Speeding across the celestrial sky at up to 16 deg/day it passed through Bootes Mar-21 to 24, past Polaris Mar-25/26, between Camelopardalis and Cassiopeia Mar-27 to 30 and then into Perseus where it began to slow Mar-31 to Apr-16 and then into Aries Apr-17 to Apr-31.

I followed its path between 1996-Apr-01 and 1996-Apr-09.

Celestrial positions of Comet Hyakutake, 
recorded 1996-Apr-01 to 1996-Apr-09

Constellation of Perseus
Notice the apparent slowing down of the comet between the two 4 day periods.
Image Image Image
1996-Apr-01, 20:00 UT
1996-Apr-05, 20:15 UT
1996-Apr-09, 21:15 UT

I took some photos of Hyakutake by mounting my camera on top of my LX200 telescope and taking exposures of around 5 minutes duration.

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Comet Hale Bopp

Hale Bopp was the famous comet of 1997. Most people will remembering hearing about it, many will remember seeing it. 

Comet Hale Bopp
Photos taken with Pentax Camera mounted on LX200, 400 ASA Film
(More of my images of Hale Bopp)
Image Image
50mm lens, Exposure 5 mins 300mm lens, Exposure 5 mins

My first sight of Hale Bopp was in the year previous on 1996-Nov-07 when it lay close to the globular cluster M14 in the constellation of Ophichus in evening sky. At the time it was still fairly dim and without any discernable tail. 

In 1997-Feb I observed it in the morning in the east (Cygnus).  By March it had gone round the Sun and lay in the evening sky in the NNW, by which time it was a clear naked eye object with a well developed tail. 

I made some observations of the comet on the evening of 1997-Mar-27 through my LX200 telescope, at which time the comet lay between the constellations of Cassiopeia and Andromeda. I also took some photos using Camera mounted onto of the LX200. These pictures came out pretty well. (see above and more images).  The main dust tail (bright white-yellow white) was starting to become distinctly curved by this stage. A second tail (plasma tail) was also observable through the LX200 and from photos was blue in colour. 

I continued making occasional visual observations of Hale Bopp through 1997-Apr and 1997-May until it disappeared from UK skies.

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Comet C/2000 WM1 (LINEAR)

C/2000 WM1 (LINEAR) was imaged with a ST-7e camera though an 8" LX200 on 2001-11-01.  (Images and more details at C/2000 WM1 Images, 2001-11-01)

Stacked images, 3 x 3 min exposures

The following animated sequence of images was recorded on 2001-11-26:

C/2000 WM1 (LINEAR)
2001-11-26, 22:26 to 22:39h UT, 
Animation produced from 10 x 60s CCD images taken over a 13 minute period 


Better CCD  images of C/2000 WM1 were recorded 2001-11-26 (  (Images and more details at C/2000 WM1 Images, 2001-11-26)

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Comet C/2000 SV74 (Linear)

Images of C/2000 SV74 were recorded on 2001-12-14

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Comet - C/2004 Q2 (Machholz)

C/2004 Q2 (Macholz) was the bright comet of 2004/2005 Winter

Comet C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) motion
(motion measured at 3.44 arc sec/hour)
CCD Image Animation - aligned on comet
16 frames, 2 min exposure,  C Filter
2004-12-18 21:28 h to 23:52h UT (#80045-110)
(Animation with 66 frames was also created)
Comet C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) 
CCD Colour Composite Image
Blue (av 2 x 90s B Filter, 100%), Green (30s V Filter,115%), 
Red (30s R Filter, 100%) 
2005-01-05 23:43 h UT (#82121-24)

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Comet 73/P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3

Comet 73/P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3-B 

Animated CCD frame sequence showing motion of 
Fragment B over a 26 minute period hrough Star Field on 
border between Hercules & Lyra.
  CCD Image (75% size)
8 frames, 30s exposures, 1x1 binning, C Filter
Linear Scale
2006-05-09 00:55h UT (#123203-37) 



Fragment B Fragment C
Fragment B - 2005-05-08 Fragment C - 2005-05-08
Image Image 

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