Comet Hyakutake (C/1996 B2)

Japanese version
Comet Hale-Bopp Page is here

[Picture]JPEG (97K)

Time: March 25, 1996, 17h40m GMT
Camera: 55mm F1.8 lens, Fuji HG1600 film, 40 sec exposure
Location: Kameoka City, Kyoto Pref.
by T. Fujiwara

The comet discovered by Yuji Hyakutake ([Japanese chars]) in Hayato-machi, Kagoshima, Japan, on January 31 (JST) might become a great comet in March and April this year.

The comet is traveling toward the sun due at perihelion of 0.23AU from the sun on May 1. On its way to the sun the comet comes near Earth in late March. The closest approach takes place on March 25, and the distance is only 0.10AU (about 40 times of the distance to the moon). Because the comet passes near Earth, it moves very rapidly in the sky from Bootes to Perseus in late March (see the figures below).

The magnitude around March 25 is expected to be 0mag or so, bright enough for the naked eye. However, one might not feel as bright as usual stars, since the comet should be diffuse and extended. The tail will be faint, because a prominent dust tail usually develops after approaching the sun. I recommend viewing the comet with binoculars.
* (Comment added on March 24) The comet is bright! The tail is faint but very long! I would like to recommend viewing with the naked eye as well.

In April the comet approaches the sun and a dust tail will develop. In late April, the comet gets close to the sun and it will soon sets in the evening sky. In May, unfortunately, the comet goes to the south side of the solar system, so that it cannot be observed from the Northern Hemisphere. (February 29)

[Small chart]
Finder chart for early March (positions at 3h JST=-6h GMT / 3h GMT / 3h PST=11h GMT)

[Small chart]
Finder chart for late March (positions at 21h JST=12h GMT / 21h GMT / 21h PST=24+5h GMT)

[Small chart]
Finder chart for April (positions at 20h JST=11h GMT / 21h GMT / 20h PST=24+4h GMT)

[Small chart]
Visibility Chart (for locations 135°E, 35°N / 0°, 50°N / 120°W, 35°N)

These charts were created with StellaNavigator (ASCII/AstroArts).

Related Pages

* Comet C/1996 B2 Hyakutake Home Page - a great page by Ron Baalke, JPL, NASA.
* The Great Canadian Hairy Star Party - by ScienceWeb, Canada.
* C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake) by AstroArts, Japan. - detailed finder charts based on JST can be found here.
* Recent News and Observations - reports from around the world (JPL, NASA).
* Light Curve of C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake) - brightness observations of Comet Hyakutake (JPL, NASA).

Return to Fujiwara's page
Last update: 1996/7/30
Takao Fujiwara, Kyoto City Univ. of Arts