Here is a series of photos of Comet Hale-Bopp taken from the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii, about 3 hours after perihelion. The photos were taken at approximately 20:15 on 31 March HST (06:15 April 1 UT).
The photo above shows the ocean and comet during twilight. The planet Mercury is visible low, underneath a small cloud at left-center (it is hard to see against the bright sky).
Here is the comet after it became much darker. The short bright line is a boat; the fainter horizontal line shows waves breaking on the reef near the beach. At the left center, the zodiacal light can be seen. This is caused by scattering of sunlight from tiny dust particles that are spread in a disk-like cloud around the Sun.
Here is a close-up view of the comet. The diffuse dust tail and the narrower blue ion tail are both clearly visible. The ion tail is shaped by the solar wind and points almost directly away from the Sun. The dust tail has a more curved shape, caused by radiation pressure from the force of the light that the dust particles absorb. The dust particles follow trajectories that are a combination of their orbital inertia and the outward push from the sunlight.
Photographs by UH astronomer Richard J. Wainscoat
Creation: Wed Apr 2 18:20 1997 -- Hits: