John Pazmino 
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 1996 March 29
[Mr Hyakutake issued this account, with a copy to me, on 29 March 
1996. It was printed in various club newsletters in the following 
months. Since virtually all paper copies of this article are by now 
thoroly lost, I put it in the NYSkies website on 1 September 2009.
I did very minor editing and I added clarifying comments in bumpers]
    I am a 45-year old amateur astronomer from Kagoshima, Japan. My 
name, Hyakutake, means "100 samurai, or chivalry," in Japanese. It is 
not a very common name in Japan. 
    I graduated from the Art Department at Kyushu Industry University, 
where I majored in photography. 
    I live in the village of Hayato, in the southernmost prefecture [ 
province or state] located 600 miles [1,000 kilometers] southwest of 
Tokyo on the island of Kyushu. I lived in Fukuoka for many years, but 
moved to Kagoshima because the skies are much clearer there. 
    I have been married for 15 years, and have two sons, ages 10 and 
13. I am the only one in my family whose hobby is searching for 
comets. My younger son likes the television show, "The X-Files". 
    I've been interested in comets since I was 15 years old, after I 
heard of the Japanese Comet Ikeya-Seki which appeared in 1965. My 
interest in astronomy has increased steadily since then. I wanted to 
discover a comet that had a very far orbit. 
    Although I started searching for comets about seven years ago when 
I lived in Fukuoka, I have concentrated my efforts more intensely 
since I moved to Kagoshima two years ago. 
    Since last July, I have been avidly searching the night sky for 
comets from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m., about four nights a month. I want to 
continue searching for comets while my eyesight is reasonably good. 
    Many people have asked me how I discovered Comet Hyakutake. I live 
in the countryside and travel to a rural mountain top area about 10 
miles [16 kilometers] from my home to get a better view of the night 
sky. (Before I was married, I enjoyed mountain climbing.) 
    Actually, I discovered two comets. I spotted the first one at 5:40 
a.m. on [1995] December 26. I wasn't sure it was a comet, but I 
reported the sighting anyway. This first comet is still there, but 
it's not very bright. 
    A month later, I went back to the area to take photos of the first 
comet. I looked up at the sky where it should have been at that point 
in its path. However, that particular spot was filled with clouds. I 
tried to find an area in the sky that was unobscured. The clouds led 
me back to the same spot in the sky where I had originally found the 
first comet, but it didn't make sense that it would be there. That is 
when I discovered the second Comet Hyakutake, the one the media now 
refers to as "The Comet of the Century". 
    I've been asked about 75 times how I felt when I discovered this 
comet. Actually, I was feeling a bit confused. My reaction was 
somewhat complicated, since I had originally intended to go to the 
viewing spot to take a picture of my first comet. I found the second 
comet in the same area as the first one, near the constellations of 
Libra and Hydra. 
    I discovered Comet Hyakutake at 4:50 in the morning, and usually a 
person can report a comet after 8 a.m., but I decided to take some 
photos of the comet, using my camera with telephoto lenses, and got 
them developed. It wasn't until 11 a.m. that I called the National 
Astronomy Observatory in Tokyo to report my new comet. 
    I followed the formal procedure of gathering data and documenting 
my new comet discovery with photos. Then two other amateur astronomers 
in Japan recognized the comet. 
    It's interesting that my discovery wasn't reported very widely by 
the Japanese media until recently. The first media reports were from 
London. Then the American press became very interested. Now the 
Japanese media is covering the comet story. My wife can't make phone 
calls because the phone is always ringing. 
    I'm happy that this Comet Hyakutake was the second one I 
discovered, because it wasn't mere coincidence. This proved to me that 
my method of searching for comets is working, and I will continue to 
look for them. 
    I use high-powered, field binoculars with 6-inch lenses, mounted 
on a stand. This is the only equipment I own. 
    Comet Hyakutake has the longest tail that I have ever observed, 
although the new Hubble images show that this comet is breaking into 
    I am a bit perplexed by all the attention paid to me, when it is 
the comet that deserves the credit.