The observatory was open to view Comet
Hale-Bopp on the following evenings:
Thursday, April 3, 1997 --- 220 people visited, good viewing
Friday, April 4, 1997 --- 34 visitors, rain, indoor programs
Saturday, April 5, 1997 --- about 450 visitors, excellent viewing!
7:30 - 9:00 pm on Thursday, April 3
- After a late afternoon shower, we had clear skies and 220 happy people! The "dust waves" caused
by the comet's 11.5 hour rotation on its axis were easily seen in both the 14" and 8" telescopes. Tripod-mounted binoculars (7 x 50) and the finder scope on the 8" telescope each provided a good view of the tail. A few of us also used the 8" telescope and looked at Mars which was about two weeks past opposition.
7:30 - 8:30 pm on Friday, April 4 - It rained. The observatory was closed. For the 34 people who came anyway, at 7:30 a comet update program was presented followed by a planetarium program.
7:15 - 10:07 pm on Saturday, April 5 - It was a fantastic evening! After raining most of the day, clear skies prevailed all night with a temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. About 450 people enjoyed seeing the "dust waves" in the 14" telescope in the observatory and in the 8" telescope on the sidewalk as well as seeing the bright coma and long upward sweeping dust tail in the 7 x 50 tripod-mounted binoculars in the observatory. In addition, Augustana senior Mike Shaw used an ST-6 CCD camera mounted piggyback on the 14" telescope to take several pictures through a Minolta 28-85 mm zoom lens. Many visitors saw his results as displayed on the laptop computer adjacent to the telescope. Click here to see his results.
Last update: April 29, 1997