Comet Hale-Bopp is the biggest and brightest comet that has come by Earth in the last hundred years. It has a very large nucleus with a diameter estimated to be 40 to 80 kilometers. This enormous nucleus size is one the reasons behind its unusual brightness.
This comet was discovered by two astronomers independently, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp on July 23, 1995. It is also known as the Great Comet of 1997. It became visible to the naked eye in May 1996 and remained visible till December 1997.
Quick Facts: –
- Comet Hale-Bopp has a highly elongated orbit that takes it very close to the Sun and then flings it out into the outer Solar System.
- The closest approach of this comet to the earth was about 120 million miles.
- At the time of its discovery, it was the farthest comet ever to be discovered by amateurs.
- This comet was officially designated as C/1995 O1, just after being discovered.
- It developed into a spectacular sight when it passed the perihelion on April 1, 1997.
- It was the first ever comet that had the gas argon in it. It also had a sodium tail.
- There is abundance of deuterium in comet Hale–Bopp in the form of heavy water. It is about two times that of the Earth’s oceans.
- This comet will not return to the Earth again until the year 4397. It is a long period comet.
- Comet Hale-Bopp is so big that its coma is as big as the Sun.
- It was probably the most-observed comet in history because of its lengthy period of visibility.