C/1996 B2 Hyakutake
The Great Comet of 1996
Closest to Earth on 25 March 1996 at 0.10AU
Closest to Sun on 1 May 1996 at 0.23AU
Maximum magnitude 0 in March 1996
Orbital period about 29,000 years.
Whilst awaiting the 1997 arrival of the great comet Hale-Bopp,
comet Hyakutake stepped onto the stage for a grand performance.
It was one of the most impressive comets of the 20th century, primarily due to its close approach to Earth of only 15 million kms (0.1AU) on March 25th 1996.
1996 March 18.
A composite of 3x2 minute exposures.
The comet is situated in Libra with the short dust tail pointing towards Mu Virginis.
Note the kink in the blue ion tail, which is seen stretching over 11 degrees in this photo.
The comet then shone at about magnitude 3.0
1996 March 22.
50mm lens, 3 minute exposure and 400 ASA film.
Arcturus is the bright star to the left. The rapid development is evident.
The ion tail stretches well beyond the 17 degrees captured in this photo, and the comets head rivals Arcturus in brightness, about magnitude 0.
This was my last observation of the comet prior to perihelion as it sped rapidly towards the northern horizon over the following days.
Once comet Hyakutake rounded the Sun, it appeared in the morning sky for southern hemisphere observers during late May.
1996 May 19.
A composite of 2x1 minute exposures.
The comet is situated in Cetus and shines at 3rd magnitude.
Note the very faint blue ion tail stretching about 12 degrees to the upper right.
1996 May 19.
A single 30 second exposure.
The short stubby dust tail is visible in the approaching dawn sky.