Harry Turner's Episodes of Personal History
Comet Hale-Bopp (1997)    | HISTORY Page | Obituary Page |
Comet Hale-Bopp

Where do I get the T-shirt?

SATURDAY 8 March 1997
Wowee! Hale-Bopp here I come[t]... Tonight I shall join the exalted ranks of those who have seen the wonder in the sky! [Hopefully] ■

SUNDAY 9 March 1997
Way-hay! I believe!! I've seen it... it's great!!!

Yup, my subconscious promptings roused me just after 4am. The prospects didn't look so good when I retired, as from the bedroom window the sky was obscured. It was still largely clouded over at 4am, so I dithered about making an effort and actually getting up.

Still, the time was right, so I dragged on a few clothes and groped my way downstairs, and was amazed to find the sky at the rear of the house was clear, the stars were shining and, as I staggered out of the back door, there was the comet dominating the view. Couldn't miss it...no messing. Bright, with a long glowing tail extending upwards... a real recognisable comet, actually hanging over our backyard. Marion had left out the binoculars, just in case I actually got round to a viewing, and they made the spectacle even more spectacular.

After the frosty nights we've been having recently, I found it surprisingly mild when I ventured out of doors, so I lingered more than somewhat while savouring the sighting. After past disappointments, this comet really is impressive to the naked eye. And after all the excitement I still managed to wake up in plenty of time to hear Alistair this morning.

Though it's dull and the sky's completely obscured by cloud while I prepare breakfast, I feel bright and cheerful just thinking about my lucky exposure to that miraculous window in the clouds in the small hours. Can't get over the thrill of actually seeing a real comet in the sky at long last. Wow! Sorta wonder why it's not blazoned all over the front pages of the papers today...

Where do I apply for my "I'VE SEEN HALE-BOPP" T-shirt ? ■

Nisbet's Law of Appearances: "What you see is never what you get".

TUESDAY 11 March 1997
Philip was complaining this morning that he couldn't get to sleep last night for people tiptoeing up and down stairs and flitting past his bedroom door. Since he was awake he did peep out of his window and got a good view of the comet.

I was awakened around 5am by the lights going on in the house opposite, and decided to try my luck again. This time the comet was higher in the sky, just above the light pollution glow on the horizon, and the tail more clearly defined. I hadn't been out long before being joined in my vigil by Marion, who claimed she had been down earlier... By the time I got back to bed, our neighbour opposite was driving away in his car, and then shortly after I heard the Guardian thump on the doormat. Had everybody been up early comet-gazing I began to wonder?

And this morning, over breakfast, Hale-Bopp actually won an accolade from the Today team, and an enthusiastic interview with an astronomer. Very deservedly so, I may say. ■


Comet Hale-Bopp

Monday 24 March 1997 brought relatively clear skies at long last to North East Cheshire and comet Hale-Bopp was sighted in the northwest sky by observers at the O&S viewing site in Carlton Avenue, Romiley, from19:30hrs. Not quite the magnificent naked-eye object seen earlier in the month, but bright and the tail clearly visible through binoculars. Observations were continued over a period of a couple of hours, before being hindered by increasing murk on the horizon and obstructing chimneystacks... ■

View of Comet Hale-Bopp below
constellation of Cassiopeia.

ANOTHER CLEAR EVENING on Wednesday, and here's the comet still hovering over the rooftops of Romiley. I lingered to watch the lady from the Science Museum confessing to her love for meteorites, and hardly had time to switch the telly off before Marion was out with her binoculars.

Wonder if you saw the Weather Show before the BBC lunchtime news the other day, when Heather was talking about viewing Hale-Bopp? They kept showing these big-telescope pics of the comet, instead of what the naked-eye viewer could expect to see. I wonder what some folk would be expecting to see that night!

And a letter from Steve [Sneyd] confirms a sighting at Almondbury last Thursday; impressive he says, despite having to look right across the Huddersfield city centre glow. Here's hoping the forecasters have got it right, and we shall be enjoying clear weather for some spectacular comet viewing over Easter weekend... ■

Letters to Fran & Brian Varley

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