Comet Hale-Bopp may become the brightest comet in 1997 even though the comet is still well outside the orbit of Jupiter (approximately 600 million miles away from the Earth). Observations taken from the HST will aid scientists in determining whether or not Hale-Bopp is really a giant comet or rather a more moderate-sized object whose current activity is driven by outgassing from very volatile ice which will "burn out" over the next year. More detailed Hubble images will be taken with the Planetary Camera late this month to follow the evolution of the spiral as well as to search for more outbursts, place limits on the size of the nucleus, and to use spectroscopy to study the comet's chemical composition.
Observers: Ricard Casas, Luis Chinarro, Angel Gomez, Luis Manade, antiago Lopez, and Miquel Serra-Ricart
Location: Teide Observatory, Canary Islands, Spain
Date: October 22, 1995
Images of Hale-Bopp may be accessed from the Comet Hale-Bopp Home Page at http://newproducts.jpl.nasa.gov/comet/, and also via anonymous ftp from ftp.stsci.edu in /pubinfo. Other sites providing images are http:www.stsci.eupubinfo/Latest.html and http://www.stsci.edu/pubinfo/Pictures.html.