Comet Halley in early March of 1986. The bright crescent moon is overexposed in this exposure.

Comets

My first comet was in 1974. This was the infamous comet Kohoutek, which fizzled for many but turned out to be a nice little comet for amateurs. I still recall seeing Jupiter, Venus and the comet in my binoculars. The comet sported an interesting tail but my sketch (now lost) did not match what I saw a few months later in the astronomy magazines. In March/April of that same year, I saw Comet Bradfield, which reached naked eye visibility for dark sky observers. After this, I was hooked. I kept my eyes peeled for a super-comet that would knock my socks off. In early 1976, I heard of a comet that could get as bright as zero magnitude in the early morning sky. The comet's name was West and I eagerly anticipated it's arrival. I remember, a cool March morning, when I woke up early prior to going to school. Carrying my trusty binoculars out into my backyard, I expected a tough search just like Kohoutek. How wrong I was when I turned the corner of the house and saw a wonderful "feather" hanging in the eastern sky. Again, I had no camera to record the event but I still recall the excitement of seeing a comet and it's tail with no optical aid. Over the years I followed a few faint comets through the sky. Names like Kobayashi-Berger-Milan, Bradfield (at least two), Encke, and IRAS-Araki-Alcock ring a bell. It wasn't until Halley in 1986 that I started photographing these comets. Below is a link to each comet that I have photographed, which I am sure you will enjoy.

Halley November 1985- May 1986

Bradfield Fall 1987

Swift-Tuttle November -December 1992

Schwassman-Wachman 3 - October 1995 and return in May 2006

Hyakutake March-April1996

Hale-Bopp July 1996 - May 1997

Ikeya-Zhang March - May 2002

Bradfield (2004F4) April-May 2004

NEAT (2001Q4) May-June 2004

Machholz (2004Q2) January-February 2005

SWAN (2006M4) October 2006

McNaught (2006P1) January 2007

Holmes 17P October-November 2007

 

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