Hale-Bopp was discovered in July of 1995 separately by Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp. Its original designation was C/1995 01. It peasked at magnitude -1 in late march 1997 and had tails that were 20 deg long. More people may have seen Hale-Bopp than any other comet in history. Its next return will be in the 44th century.
This was the first photo taken with the new 12" Meade. It was with a piggy backed 35mm camera. (I was so excited, I can't now remember what lens I used). Even though I botched it by forgetting how to take a shot longer than 15 sec., we still got a descent photo. The excitement was mainly due to the fact that this was also the "first light" for the 12" (after capturing Hale-Bopp some visual observing ensued). The picture was taken at Ken Bronstien's home, since he has a nice "site", around 4/6/97 at about 9:30pm. I've read that this is the last great astronomical object recorded primarily on film. It is interesting to me that is was the last film experiment for me also.
The 35mm negative was scanned using a PhotoSmart scanner producing a huge data file. This first picture (shown above) has been resampled smaller, and slightly darkened. It has also been rotated 60 degrees clockwise to match the original visual orientation, and then cropped.
Notice: just above and to
the left of the comet head is M34 (an open cluster). It is easier
to see in this full resolution image in the upper left.
In the top right corner of
the top picture is the Double Cluster in Perseus, as seen here in
this full resolution subframe. (You may have to scroll the top
picture to see the far right side).
The original scanned data was interesting, but I very much wanted to know what stars and such were in the frame. So I ran TheSky back to 4/6/97 at 9:30pm (it now being 11/24/97), set it to altitude / azimuth mode, spun it over to the NW, and then spent some time trying to match star patterns. This is what lead me to identify the clusters mentioned above. The original un-cropped image, with its original orientation and contrast, is shown below. Note the tree line in the bottom right. (This version has been resampled down by a factor of 6).