Observing report for 23 March 1996




Comet Hyakutake


As other people have noted, this is an incredible sight under dark skies. The naked-eye coma was slightly more than one degree across and was noticably elongated. The tail could be discerned all the way out to near Epsilon Vir (Vindamiatrix), which is about 30 degrees from the head comet at Epsilon Boo (Izar). The first half of the tail is very prominent. Although for general views the binocs didn't help, the coma and first part of the tail were beautiful through binocs. There's a slim chance that I saw the Gegenschein in Virgo, but this was a marginal observation.

I have been shooting film with my 35mm camera with 28mm, 50mm, and 135mm lenses and a hand-powered barn-door tracker. Last night's pictures turned out really nice on 1-2 minute exposures on Fuji G 800 professional film (this is good film, BTW). These pictures were taken from the roof of the Physical Sciences Building here with a limiting mag of only about 5.0, and I was still able to record 15-20 degrees of tail. In the 50mm exposures at the dark site tonight, I'll probably nearly fill the frame corner-to-corner (40+ degrees)!

Unfortunately, we may get a major snowstorm which would kill Saturday and Sunday nights. However, tonight wasn't supposed to be nearly as good as it was, so I'm not complaining. I'd also like to commment that it's fun doing the amateur thing again!

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