Remembering Comet Hale-Bopp – March 1997 – Charcoal/Pencil Sketches, and Photographs

Twenty-three years, March 2020!   

Comet Hale-Bopp 
March 1997
10-Inch Reflector
Magnification: 160x
FOV: 0.38º 

White charcoal pencil sketch on black card stock.  The three tails are visible:  The anti-tail, the ion or gas tail and the dust tail are clearly visible.   Roger Ivester  (North Carolina)



Unfortunately, the sketch is actually larger than our scanner can copy, so some of the comet is cut off.  The sketch was done on 4/2/1997.  The tail was about 15° long to the naked eye.  To get the tail and the core detail in the same sketch, I used three different instruments: 8×40 binox, a 90mm refractor, and a 6-inch reflector.   Sue French  (New York) 





The following photograph by Mario Motta:

Nikon camera at F2, 50mm lens if I recall….piggybacked on my telescope just before dawn, with FILM  kodachrome. (what is that stuff again?)

I scanned it to digitize a few years back.  I’ve also included an interesting story, following the photo.  Mario Motta  (Massachusetts) 



Hi Roger, 

You might be amused by the background story to the above image.

Before my Gloucester, Massachusetts 32-inch scope, I had a summer home up in Center harbor New Hampshire, where I built my first 32-inch telescope, a Newtonian f/4, much different than my current scope. (that was designed by Scott Milligan though I built it.)

It was on a small lake with many trees. I had a good southern view but had to keep clearing trees east and west. When Hale-Bopp was found, went up to image, given the long tail, I opted for piggyback camera on my telescope.

The day before, I suddenly realized a 130 foot tree would block the rising comet!  So, that afternoon got a chainsaw and cut this rather large tree just to get this image. (had to come down eventually, but, my feeling was trees are welcome to grow on my land.. unless they have the temerity to block my view of the sky… :).

Got up early and made the image at 4 AM, right where that tree was the day before.

That observatory I sold to Arne Hendon, a professional astronomer, who was director of the AAVSO, and was retiring, and looking for a place to put a telescope. He was looking just as Joyce and I were thinking of selling the NH place given our kids were grown, and we did not need a lake anymore when we moved to Gloucester next to a beach.

It worked out well for the both of us. Arne got the telescope he wanted, and retirement home, and I did not have to take apart an observatory.

For several years I actually had two 32-inch telescopes until I sold NH to Arne.

The good news: When my new 32-inch glass was being cast before grinding, it was made 32.25 inches in diameter to allow for edge beveling…whereas my NH 32-inch is exactly 32-inches.

So, I always remind Arne my scope is still the bigger than his… 🙂

Mario Motta  (Massachusetts)  


James Dire has quite a few photos of Hale-Bopp, and decided to post his site, as well as one of his images. System.html 


Date: March 28, 1997 – Location:  (Jarrettsville, MD) – Minolta X-570 w/Fujicolor 800 Film –  Lens:  50 mm f/2.8 –  Piggyback Bushnell (4-inch) 4000 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope –  Exposure:  10 minutes   









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