Sommers-Bausch Observatory - University of Colorado


Comet Hyakutake C/1996 B2

The comet Hyakutake (pronounced "HYAH-koo-tah-keh") passed the Earth on March 25th, and during late March and early April provided us with our best view of a celestial "dirty snowball" in the last 20 years. In case you missed it, the following maps document where the comet appeared. We also give you these observing tips for viewing the next comet apparition. If you have your own planetarium-style computer program and would like to add the comet to its database, here are the orbital elements for the Comet Hyakutake - including an explanation of all those strange and cryptic astronomical terms.

Here's an early image (59K GIF) of the comet taken here at SBO on March 16th - and, so that you may appreciate just how big and bright it grew, a comparison (60K GIF) of how it changed in just over two weeks.

One of the most exciting features of a comet is its tail. Here is an image taken on March 19th, and the tale of its tail (60K GIF). In less than a week, however, the tail grew enormously - 50 degrees in length on March 25th!

Here are some photos taken by Keith Gleason during the time of closest approach, scanned into electronic bits. For you camera buffs, a standard 35mm camera with Fujicolor 400 film was used, tripod-mounted (unguided) .

Other local observers images: Travis Rector's comet pix from his spring break in the deep dark skies of the Arizona desert, and Longmont Astronomical Society president Dennis Ward's The Silicon Sky, which also provides a jumping-off spot to many additional locations.

The Web still has lots of information and pictures of the comet - so we'll just refer you to a number of these sources: