C/1995 O1 Hale Bopp
The Great Comet of 1997

Closest to Earth on 22 March 1997 at 1.30AU
Closest to Sun on 31 March 1997 at 0.91AU
Maximum magnitude -0 in March 1997
Orbital period about 2430 years.

Comet Hale-Bopp was one of the intrinsically brightest of comets in recorded history.
Unfortunately it never ventured close to the Earth, but still managed to achieve "great comet" status.
It was predominantly observable from the Northern hemisphere at its best during April 1997.
By May 1997, Southern hemisphere observers were able to pick it up, low in the north west after sunset.

1997 May 5.
This view was snapped at Henley Beach in Adelaide with the comet appearing over the gulf waters.
It shone at around magnitude 0. Aldebaran is the star to the left.

1997 May 10.
This photo was taken from Stockport observatory, home of the Astronomical Society of South Australia,
using a 50mm lens at f/1.8 for 30 seconds with ASA 400 film. The 3 day old moon is overexposed.

1997 Dec 23.
The comet is considerably fainter, and has moved into south circumpolar skies.
Note the Large Magellanic cloud at lower right and Canopus at top left.

1998 Jan 3.
The Earth was crossing the comets orbital plane at the time, enabling enhanced visibility of the dust tail.
It can be traced over 8 degrees towards Canopus.