Comet Hyakutake






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Hyakutake was the comet that took everyone by surprise. In the spring of 1996 astronomers were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Comet Hale Bopp, which was predicted to be naked eye brightness the following spring and summer when it returned to view after travelling behind the Sun. Then suddenly there was Hyakutake, which came and went in just a few weeks in late March and April. The weather was poor for observing comets. The first time I glimpsed it, through cloud on March 22nd, it appeared to have two tails, something confimed by a photograph published the following day. Five days later when I saw it again, the two tails were one, quite straight and thick. By my last observation, one day short of a month after the first, it was low in the sky and the tail was thinner and straighter.