Images and Spectra of

Comet Hale-Bopp

at the UH Institute for Astronomy



We present here images and spectra of comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) obtained by University of Hawaii astronomers. Click on the thumbnail image to access the full-sized image and additional information.


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April 16, 1997. Very wide-field photo of Hale-Bopp over the Mauna Kea Observatory.

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April 12, 1997. Mid-infrared image of Comet Hale-Bopp from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility.

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April 6, 1997. A series of wide-angle, medium and close up photos of Comet Hale-Bopp taken 6 days after perihelion.

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April 5, 1997. An enhaced image of the jets, with the UH 2.2m telescope at Mauna Kea.
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April 4, 1997. A series of wide-angle, medium and close up photos of Comet Hale-Bopp taken 4 days after perihelion.

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March 31, 1997. Comet Hale-Bopp reached perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) at 03:01 UT on April 1. Here are three images of Comet Hale-Bopp taken from the beach on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii.

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March 18, 1997. Comet Hale-Bopp is presently too low in the Hawaiian sky to be easily observed with the optical telescopes on Mauna Kea (infrared and submillimeter observations are still being made). Here are wide-field and narrow-field images of Comet Hale-Bopp taken from Makapuu beach, Oahu, Hawaii. This pair of images gives a good respresentation of what you can expect to see with the naked eye and through binoculars. An image of Comet Hyakutake taken from a nearby location allows these two bright comets to be compared.
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March 16, 1997. Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) was discovered in Comet Hale-Bopp in April 1996. Images showing the distribution of HCN in the coma have now been produced. These images were obtained during the day, using the James Clerk Maxwell Submillimeter Telescope.
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March 8, 1997: Daytime infrared image of Hale-Bopp obtained on the NASA 3m InfraRed Telescope Facility.
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February 17, 1997: The complex jet structure of Hale-Bopp, from the UH 2.2-meter telescope.
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The central region of Comet Hale-Bopp, from the UH 2.2-meter telescope. (Feb.7, 97)
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November 12, 1996 (UT). High resolution image obtained on the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter telescope. This image has also been processed to enhance the jet structure.

September 16, 1996 (UT). Wide-field, high-resolution image of Comet Hale-Bopp obtained by Olivier Hainaut, Karen Meech and James Bauer using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.
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June 16, 1996 (UT). A 60sec exposure through a R filter, with the UH 8k CCD mosaic on the UH 2.2-meter telescope at Mauna Kea (17 arcminute field). The image is displayed in false colors. The comet is still in front of the star-rich Milky Way, and does not yet display the complex jet system (the observers were O.R. Hainaut, K.J. Meech and D. Kakazu).

April 1996. Spectra showing the first detection of HCN (hydrogen cyanide) in a distant comet were obtained by D. Jewitt, M. Senay and H. Matthews.

September 1995. D. Jewitt, M. Senay, and H. Matthews detected Carbon Monoxide (CO) in Comet Hale-Bopp using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope.


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September 01, 1995 (UT). true-color image from obtained from separate B (blue), V (green) and R (red) exposures from the University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope. The observations were performed by Dave Tholen, and the images were processed and combined into this color composite by Richard Wainscoat. Each exposure was 30 seconds, and the CCD was read out very quickly. Only 57 seconds separate the start of each exposure, meaning that since the comet was moving rather slowly, the movement of the comet was very small. This meant that the stars could be well aligned to make a true-color composite. This image has been color calibrated so that the Sun would appear white. The comet's coma is slightly redder than the Sun; many of the background stars are redder than the Sun. The field shown is 105 x 105 arcseconds, and the seeing is approximately 1 arcsecond. The comet's nucleus is at the center of the image. Immediately to its right are two stars of similar brightness.

(This is the image that has been used as the base of a Hale-Bopp "companion" picture released on Art Bell and Whitley Strieber's web sites. More details, including the original raw images, are available)


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August 28, 1995 (UT) R-band (red) image from obtained by Jun Chen using the University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope. The field shown is 1.9 x 1.9 arcmin. A distinct jet, shaped like a spiral arm, is seen coming from the nucleus. The exposure time was 300 seconds.
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August 2, 1995 (UT) R-band (red) image obtained by Neil Trentham using the University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope. The field shown is 7 x 7 arcmin; exposure time was 60 seconds. In the deep stretch (lower panel) of this same image, the comet is seen to extend almost to the edge of the CCD field.

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August 2, 1995 (UT) color image obtained by Neil Trentham using the University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope. The field is the same as shown in the R-band image above, and the image was carefully color calibrated so that a solar type star would appear white. In this image, the comet is not a colorful object - its coma has a color similar to (but slightly redder than) the color of the Sun. Since the comet moved slightly between the red, green, and blue exposures which make up this image, the background stars do not register exactly.


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July 29, 1995 (UT) color image obtained by Dave Tholen, made from separate 30 second exposures though B (blue), V (green) and R (red) filters using the University of Hawaii's 2.2-meter telescope. Because of the comet's motion, the stars in the B, V, R images do not register exactly - each star appears as a sequence of overlapping red, green, and blue dots. The field of view is 220 x 127 arcseconds.
These images are Copyright© (1995, 1996, 1997) Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawai`i. Feel free to download them for your personal enjoyment, but please contact us for any other use.
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Richard J. Wainscoat --- Olivier R. Hainaut
rjw@ifa.hawaii.edu --- hainaut@ifa.hawaii.edu

Update: Sun Jul 13 13:50:46 1997: -- Hits since Mar.10 17:30