Hale-Bopp Comet was the first comet to be discovered by a small amateur telescope. The Great Comet of 1997 grabbed headlines when it lit up the night sky. It is often cited as the most observed comet of all time.
Hale-Bopp is roughly 40 km (25 miles) in diameter. It is mainly because of its large size that it appears so bright. Its nucleus is mostly composed of ice that reflects a large amount of sunlight. The nucleus is surrounded by a combination of gases and dust known as the coma, such as metal rich silicate mineral.
The light coming out of the comet is a product of ice evaporating and disintegrating into a cloud of particles. Hale-Bopp proved an abundance of information on the physical and chemical nature of comets including the presence of a third tail made of sodium trailing the comet in addition to a dust and gas tail.
Hale-Bopp Comet will return to the inner solar system around the year 4385.
Comet Hale Bopp was discovered independently by Alan Hale, New Mexico and Thomas Bopp, Arizona on 23 July, 1995. It was the farthest comet ever discovered by amateurs and appeared 1000 times brighter than Halley’s Comet did at the same distance (outside of Jupiter’s orbit – 7.15 AU).
Hale-Bopp passed closest to Earth in March 1997. It was visible during its flyby of Earth in 1997. Hale Bopp’s closest approach to Sun was 1 April, 1997.
Discovered: July 23, 1995
Orbital Period: 2,537 years
Last Perihelion Date: April 1, 1997
Predicted Next Perihelion: 4380
Closest approach to Earth: 1.3 AU (22 March 1997)
Comet facts – comparing Hale-Bopp to other famous comets.
1. Hale-Bopp (Rare Comet)
Before 1997, the last time hale-Bopp flew near Earth – approximately 42,00 years ago – the Great Pyramids of Egypt has only recently been built.
2. Halley’s Comet (Occasional Comet)
Halley’s comet enter our inter solar system every 76 years with the last visit in 1886. The next predicated visit date is 28 July 2061.
3. Tempel 1 – (Frequent Comet)
This comet orbits the Sun every 5.5. years and was the subject of the Deep Impact space mission which returned samples from it.
Did you know?
39 people of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed suicide in 1997, thinking aliens were following Hale-Bopp.
Comet, Revised by Carl Sagan (Author), Ann Druyan (Author)
From Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca,
Hale-Bopp Comet Links:
Comet Hale Bopp: AAAA Gallery – Picture source of Hale Bopp Comet by Drew Sorenson (added on 11th June 2012)
Comet Hale-Bopp Homepage (JPL): – Over 5,100 images.
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