John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 1997 March 11
    I watched the hale-Bopp comet on and off since summer of 1996 in 
both evening and morning sky. On 1997 March 11 I got my first evening 
view of the next apparition. I then started sending letters about my 
observations to the various Internet newsgroups relating to astronomy, 
such as 'sci.astro.amateur'.
    The letters are collected here under their 'sent' dates with 
cleanup to fix erratic typing. Only the substantial letter are here. 
Very brief ones, usually to reply to an inquiry or add a comment to an 
other person's letter, are omitted. 
 = = = = = 
1997 March 11
    I got my first evening view of Hale-Bopp on Monday 10 March 1996 
from Bath Junction BK. This is the first success of many failed 
attempts for an evening sighting due to continuing cloudy weather and 
obscuring skyline. I did, of course, see Hale-Bopp repeatedly in the 
dawn both from the Winter Star Party [in Florida] and Lenox Hill MH. 
    When I left work at 17:30ish the sky cleared up from all day 
clouds but there was a moist haze hanging in the air. Never the less I 
figured to try for Hale-Bopp anyway. I work near Herald Sq, no place 
at all for sighting the comet for the towers that barricade the square 
against the sky. So I tried a trick I use for spotting the Milky Way. 
    One of the train routes I can take to go home runs on an el in 
Brooklyn. "El' is short for 'elevated [railroad]', part of the 
original transit network started in the 1870s. While most of the 
central sections were long replaced by underground lines, a fine grid 
of these aerial railroads fans thru the outer boros. The structure 
resembles an overhead highway except it's made from steel in the place 
of concrete. The platforms are some 7 meters off the street, about at 
rooftop and treetop height where the line runs thru the bedroom 
districts. Hence, from the platform I'm above the ground clutter of 
lights and obstructions. 
    This route, the West End line, I rode home that night. Thru the 
windows, badly crazed plastic, I watched the sky darken. When it 
darkened enough to see the comet, I got off at the next station, which 
happened to be 62nd St in Bath Junction. It was then 18:30ish. This 
station is an express stop where the trains belly up to both sides of 
the platforms and there are no walls to block my view of the sky. I 
walked to the uptown end, out from under the canopies near the center 
of the platforms, and had a fine prospect to the north and west. 
    There was Hale-Bopp twinkling like an other bright star far to the 
right of the crescent Moon. Having no optics with me I viewed only by 
eye. There was plainly a short brush sticking out to the right (to 
celestial north) of 1/2 degree length. Altho Hale-Bopp looked dimmer 
than Capella, it was low and probably tempered by horizon haze. 
    After several minutes of viewing, and standing back to let trains 
pass thru, I boarded the next train to continue my ride home.
 = = = = =
1997 March 12
    The following activities in New York are operated by the Amateur 
Astronomers Association. Correspondents on this site may drop in at 
any of these activities, shake hands, and enjoy the stars with us. For 
details and membership information, contact the Association at 1010 
Park Avenue, New York NY 10028; 212-LE5-2922. You can also reach us 
thru our new email secretary@aaa.org or at our website www.aaa.org. 
Please give your snailmail address so we can send you our litterature. 
    Fri - 14 Mar - 18:30 = Floyd Bennett Field - BK - Clearsky star
viewing from the Observatory site. Enter Field at apex of tollfan on 
Flatbush Av. 
    Fri - 28 Mar - 18:30 - Great Kills Pk - SI - Clearsky viewing of 
Comet Hale-Bopp and other spring features from the Model Flying Field 
off of Hylan Bv. 
    Sat - 29 Mar - 19:00 - Central Park - MH - Clearsky viewing of 
Comet Hale-Bopp and other spring features from Fifth Av side of Sheep 
Meadow. Enter via Tavern-on-the-Green carpark. 
    Sat - 5 Apr - 18:30 - Great Kills Pk - SI - Clearsky viewing of 
Comet Hale-Bopp and other spring features from the Model Flying Field 
off of Hylan Bv. 
    Sun - 23 Mar - 21:00 - Central Park - MH - Clearsky viewing of the 
lunar eclipse and other spring features from Sheep Meadow. 
    The Central Park events on the 23rd and 29th are in Sheep Meadow, 
the large grassy field near the south end of the Park. From the south 
enter the Park at Columbus Circle or 7th Av and walk along the outer 
road clockwise to Tavern-on-the-Green. Then turn inward into Sheep 
Meadow. From the west enter thru the carpark of Tavern- on-the-Green. 
Walk all the way thru the carpark to the Park's outer road. Continue 
across the road into Sheep Meadow. 
    Despite the March season, do bring a extra sweater or jacket. This 
applies more strongly for Floyd Bennett FIeld and Great Kills Park. 
They are located in flat open regions near the water. Expect quite 
chilly weather even if it be warm in the City by day. 
    Bring also binoculars and a lawnchair or blanket. You may picnic 
during the viewing; do be sure to remove all litter and rubbish 
afterwards. The Association has telescopes at each event for closeup 
views of the eclipse and the comet, as well as litterature. --- 
 = = = = = 
1997 March 16 
    I studied Hale-Bopp tonight, Sunday 16 March 1997, from 18:30 to 
19:30 from my house in Gelfand's Hill, Brooklyn. Starting at 18:15 I 
scanned the northwest sky from my stoop. I stayed on the stoop so the 
house shielded me from direct light from nearby lamppoles. By 18:30 I 
spotted it among tree branches and followed it until 19:30 when it 
sank behind houses across the street. 
    The sky was clear, chilly, and breezy. The twilight was a rich 
smooth deepening blue and stars popped out one by one. The Moon was 
near the meridian but did not interfere with the Comet. Allowing for 
the Moon the transparency was by full nightfall 4 to 4-1/2 magnitude. 
This was a textbook good night in Brooklyn. Recall that I'm viewing 
from a neighborhood almost the size of Toronto or Chicago, for those 
who from suburbs report tails of many many degrees. 
    At first I saw by eye a bright star, well superior in brilliance 
over Capella. I tried a match with Sirius but I have to concede it is 
not yet its equal. After a moment of dark adaption, not very deep, I 
could trace the tail for about 1 degree to the right. 7x35 binoculars 
revealed a tail fully four degrees long, gushing out from the upper 
side of the head! Altho over the minutes the sky darkened, this four 
degrees remained the fullest length of tail I ever could see. 
    I figured that being confined to my stoop restricted me to 
binoculars. Then I hazarded to go and try a telescopic look anyway. Of 
the many scopes I have I picked the Questar field model. This is the 
tube & optics part of the regular Questar with a tripod socket on the 
base. This I screwed to a heavy camera tripod and set out the legs to 
fit the stoop. I chose the Questar for the exquisite contrast of 
image, speed and simply of setting up, and the builtin permanently 
aligned finder. 
    Thru the scope the comet was stunning and gorgeous. This happened 
to be my first telescopic view of Hale-Bopp in the evening. I saw it 
telescopicly in the morning many time from the Winter Star Party and 
Lenox Hill, Manhattan. I stayed with 40x and only occasionally went to 
80x by flipping in the little builtin Barlow. The lower power showed 
everything and the Comet drifted much slower from the field. I have no 
tracking on the tripod; I just nudge the scope to keep the object 
    The activity was almost all on the upper side of the head with a 
dark vacant lacuna on the lower right side. There were a couple hoods, 
or shockwaves or fountains, shooting out from the head. Their outer 
ends swept back into the tail. The tail in the scope reached out one 
    I watched on and off and also called my father out to inspect it. 
He's not into astronomy but he does want to see the special things 
going on in the sky. He, for instance, likes lunar eclipses and he did 
see comet Hyakutake. He, too, saw the fountain effect around the head. 
After the Comet slid behind houses I spent a few minutes looking at 
the Moon. For this I moved the scope off of the stoop to the front 
walkway. Then I called it a night. 
 = = = = = 
1997 March 23 
    I studied Hale-Bopp tonight, Sunday 23 March 197, from my house in 
Gelfand's Hill, Brooklyn. I started looking at 18:20 but twilight was 
still a bit too strong. I first spotted Hale-Bopp by eye at 18:45 
skirting the tops of trees across the street. The trees are still 
defoliate from the winter, so I wasn't worried about losing the comet 
within them. 
    The air was chilly, about 5C, with a buffeting breezes. The sky 
Transparency, despite the rising Full Moon was 4th magnitude. Twilight 
was a rich blue smoothly graduated from horizon to dark sky overhead. 
By eye the tail reached out almost 2 degrees. This was from an open 
spot on the sidewalk away from trees with ambient light on me. When I 
first caught it at 18:45, it was merely a bright star; The tail 
emerged from deepening twilight in a few minutes. 
    Thru binoculars the tail streamed out seven degrees! This is a 
little more than the 6-1/2 field of the 7X35 binoculars. I used an old 
old trick. I jiggled the binoculars. This trick brings out faint parts 
of nebulae, for instance, which escape notice under a steady gaze. 
I again chose the Questar for telescopic inspection of the comet. 
    The Questar has superb contrast, besides being compact and quick to 
set up. From the time I went to my room on the second floor to 
retrieve the instrument to that when I get first light thru it was all 
of five minutes. The entire ensemble fits quite neatly on my stoop out 
of direct streetlight and sheltered from chilly breeze. 
    The comet was more symmetrical than last week, with some bias 
along the lower edge. Last week I noted the activity on the UPPER 
edge, but this referred to the view in the telescope, which is flipped 
relative to the eye or binocular view. In the scope, my Questar field 
model, I traced the tail to two degrees. The intervening branches 
actually helped to follow the tail by providing dark bars for 
    The structure in the tail and head were just too much to sketch 
confidently. In general the tail had several shafts arrayed in a 15 
degree wedge angle from the head. But outside of that central core was 
a diffuse but plainly evident fan of about 70 or 80 degree wedge 
angle. From about 3/4 degree out from the head to the farther tip of 
the tail there was a darker central rift. The whole effect certainly 
suggested a bulk rotation of the head in the week since my last 
telescope view. 
    My father stepped out and examined the comet. He recognized the 
changes in aspect since last week, but believed the overall aspect was 
more fuzzy. Perhaps this is due to Hale-Bopp being just past perigee 
about 198 million kilometers away. What seemed sharp-edged a week ago 
is now closer and the diffusion shows up. 
    By 20:00 the comet sank into thick air over the houses and I took 
a rest. After all there was that lunar eclipse later in the night! 
 = = = = = 
1997 March 23 
    Yep! Your message came thru loud and clear! I captured it and I'll 
repost it in the astronomy rooms for you. I saw H-B last night (Sat 22 
Mar) in mid twilight from West Broadway and Broome St after leaving 
SoHo Books. Just a bright star with no structure 'coz I was stuck in 
daylight vision. No dark adaption possible from the street. For your 
reference, the astronomy rooms on Moondog are #47, 422, 711 (actually 
'Space' but lots of astrostuff), 1101, 1102 ('Planetarium' but with 
astrostuff), 1129, 1431, and 2190. Check them out by doing 'j 47', 'j 
1101', &c. Or make sure these are scanned into your mail packet. 
--- Lo here the original message --- 
 Date: 03-22-97 (20:33) 
 Number: 976 of 988 (Refer# NONE) 
 To: ALL 
 Subj: Hale-Bopp 
 Read: (N/A) 
 Conf: Main Board (0) 
I'm new here, so hello! Just was looking at comet from my attic with 
 . . . 
 = = = = = 
1997 April 2 
    I went to the comet viewing session in Central Park, Manhattan, on 
Saturday 29 March 1997. And, yes, I did see Hale-Bopp. Now, read that 
again carefully. No, it does NOT say I saw the comet from the Park. 
OK, what happened? 
    The day on Saturday the 29th of March was cloudy and it started to 
rain in the mid afternoon. The Amateur Astronomers Association 
scheduled one of its several comet sessions for the evening, starting 
at sundown, in Sheep Meadow of Central Park. The session was called 
off. However, I had an idea. In New York an afternoon thunder storm 
commonly ends at sundown and the clouds dissipate by nightfall. Thus, 
even tho I would have no company in the Park, I may get a good view of 
    So my father gave me a ride to the Brighton Beach subway under a 
summer-like thunder-&-lightning storm. The Brighton Beach route goes 
straight to Columbus Circle, an entry into the Park, with a one-seat 
ride. The train crosses from Brooklyn into Manhattan on Manhattan 
Bridge. From the train I had a full panorama of the City. Yep, the 
storm was still in force with clouds hovering 150 meters or so off the 
    How can one tell? Rain clouds are featureless gray blankets with 
nothing to gage their elevation. 
    Ah!, in New York, we got cloud gages. The skyscrapers are so tall 
that when the clouds lower in storms they cover the upper floors! 
Truly from this phaenomenon the term 'skyscraper' comes. So on this 
day the clouds came down to about the 150m 'mark' on the 'rulers'. 
    At Columbus Circle I exited to the street and, lo!, the rain eased 
up to an annoying pitter-patter. The sky was definitely brightening in 
the west, tho it was still thickly overcast. I walked over to Sheep 
Meadow, the actual site of the comet viewing. All its gates were 
locked; the session was cancelled. Over the chest-high chainlink fence 
I saw no one at all in the field. By now, quite 18:00, the rain 
tapered to a splashing drizzle. 
    Oh, what the hell. I walked along the park paths keeping Sheep 
Meadow on my right with the old 'hand on the wall' technique. No one 
around but a few joggers and dogwalkers. I never suffered wetting from 
the direct rain. I had a hooded jacket and a wool knit hat. What did 
discomfort me were the puddles along the paths. I stepped into 
several, some reaching over my shoes. Stomping the feet did shake off 
the bulk of the water before it soaked into the socks. 
    The rain continued to ebb and the clouds gradually thinned. The 
clouds lifted off of the towers, exposing their entire statures. Far 
too slowly. At this rate the sky would clear well after 20:00, when 
Hale-Bopp is behind the skyline. The whole point of using Sheep Meadow 
is that, as an open grassy field a ha-klick across, we would have 
stationed at the east end to get a low skyline to the west. 
     By the time I reached the east side of Sheep Meadow it was 
obvious that the clouds would linger thru late twilight to prevent any 
view of the comet. I went home. Being now over a half kilometer from 
Columbus Circle I did not walk back there for my train. At the 
southeast corner of the Park is an other station, Fifth Avenue, that 
has trains that connect to mine. 
    If your memories of our transit system linger from the American 
Bicentennial or the Ellis Island or Brooklyn Bridge celebrations, they 
are utterly ediurnate. This Fifth Avenue station, along with scores of 
others, is under gut rebuilding into really beautiful places. Without 
going into the details, the station looks like it was constructed from 
scratch only this year, altho it was in continuous service since World 
War One. And it keeps the arts-&-crafts mosaic tiles that are so 
legendary in New York's subways. 
    Again, after changing to the Brighton Beach train, I crossed 
Manhattan [Bridge] on the way to Brooklyn. The sky was actually blue 
with twilight, but still shielded with clouds. The rain was completely 
    By the time I got home, in the Gelfand's Hill section of Brooklyn, 
the clouds were shredding apart. It was 19:30. I watched the northwest 
sky from my stoop. No comet. The sky was gauzed over in its blue 
spots. Yet it was possibly going to clear up in time to spot Hale-
Bopp. Maybe. 
    I looked again at 19:45. Still thin clouds blocked the comet. 
Would I lose the sighting for tonight? I can take that fate, given the 
erratic weather we get in the City. 
    I checked at 20:00. Bingo! The comet peeped thru the clouds! OK, I 
could see just the head as a regular 'star'. Any tail was mixed in the 
residual cloud shreds and gauze. In binoculars the head had a close- 
hugging haze around it, but no good structure. 
    So!, I did see Hale-Bopp and followed it for an other twenty 
minutes until it slid behind houses for the night. I can hardly urge 
anyone to be as silly as I was that Saturday, but it goes to show that 
one can never give up on seeing this comet. 
 = = = = =
1997 April 3 
* * B U L L E T I N * *
    The Amateur Astronomers Association, NYC Parks Dept, and the new 
Hayden Planetarium present an extra public viewing session for the 
Hale-Bopp comet. This makes up for the session on 29 March 1997 which 
was rained out. There was originally no raindate for that session but 
all three parties were inundated by public outcry for a makeup 
    So!, clear weather permitting -- you should see the Sun set with 
at worst scattered clouds -- we convene in Sheep Meadow of Central 
Park on Saturday 5 April 1997. Starting at sundown we'll demonstrate 
the Hale-Bopp comet as it emerges from the evening twilight. We also 
will show Mars and other spring sky wonders.
    To get as low a skyline obstruction as possible, not easy to 
obtain in Manhattan!, we set up at the east side of the field, the 
side nearest to Fifth Avenue. 
    Altho this is a major unanticipated task for the profession in the 
City we are intensely proud to take it on. In the last several weeks 
the public interest in the hale-Bopp comet rose to an incandescent 
fervor. This is fanned by the recent cult tragedy and fueled by the 
comet's brilliant spectacle over the City. From casual surveys among 
our neighbors and friends, about 2/3 of the populance in this 
planetary capital have seen the comet and are following the news about 
    Sheep Meadow is in the southern part of the Park and easiest to 
enter from its west side. Walk into the carpark of Tavern-on-the-Green 
from Central PArk West (8th Avenue) at 68th Street. Go all the way 
thru this carpark straight to a rear exit inside the Park. Cross the 
perimeter road. Sheep Meadow is directly across the perimeter road in 
front of you. 
    Nearest trains are at Columbus Circle (blue, orange, red lines), 
Lincoln Center (red), and Carnegie Hall (yellow). Buses run in Central 
Park South/59th Street, Central Park West/8th Avenue, Broadway, 
66th/67th Street, and 9th/Columbus Avenue. 
    Bring binoculars, a lawnchair or blanket, packed supper, and an 
extra sweater or jacket for possible residual chill in the air. 
 = = = = = 
1997 April 3 
    I, with several Association members and our lecturer, admired 
Hale-Bopp on Wednesday 2 April 1997 at about 19:20, before the monthly 
lecture of the Amateur Astronomers Association in New York. 
    The group was Arline Caldwell, Lynn Darsh, Rik Davis, Jack 
Dittrick, David Greenberg, Jerome Holzman, and lecturer Dr Carlton 
Pryor of Rutgers University. We just left Isabella's restaurant, 77th 
Street and Columbus Avenue, following a prelecture dinner. This is 
across the street from the southwest corner of the American Museum of 
Natural History, where the lecture was presented. There in the windy 
but clear air was the comet. It was about 10 or 15 degrees right of 
the centerline of 77th Street. 
    Its aspect differed among us. I and two others saw by eye only the 
head as a brilliant twinkling star. Others noted a distinct tail of 
two or three degree length. Eyesight and the incidence of local 
streetlight on our faces caused the variety of appearance. 
    I had with me a small monocular of mediocre quality. It's an old 
model that cost $10 in the early 1970s. It's palmsize so I carry it 
with me in my shoulder bag pretty much all the time. With this I 
traced a three degree tail and saw jets spurting from the head. Being 
in the street amidst lights shining on my face and hustled along to 
the lecture I didn't get a considered view. It was exciting anyway and 
the others had a look thru the instrument, too. 
    We stopped repeatedly on the way to the entrance to the Museum to 
study Hale-Bopp. Passersby joined us along the way. I guesstimate that 
2/3 of all who stopped to see Hale-Bopp already saw the comet before 
and were generally up on its news. 
    When we got to the lecture hall we were set upon by a score of our 
members. They told us of their own sightings only minutes before, 
while they were coming to the Museum! For some this evening was the 
first view they had of it. Their descriptions, all based on naked eye 
observations, fell within the range of our experience. 
 = = = = =
1997 April 19 
    I examined Hale-Bopp on Friday 11 April 1997 from my house in 
Gelfand's Hill, Brooklyn. I went out at 20:15 Eastern Daylight 
Savings Time with the comet already in plain view over the trees and 
houses across the street. The air was cool, I needed a jacket, about 
10C, but calm. The sky was clear with a crescent Moon. However, the 
horizon zone, with the comet, was hazed over. Given the Moon and haze 
the transparency was only 3rd magnitude. 
    By eye Hale-Bopp was a bright star with no obvious tail. With some 
study I picked out a 1 to 1-1/2 degree tail on the upper right. On 
magnitude it was still -1/2 altho I think it may have begun its slow 
decline due to increasing distance from Sun and Earth. Nearby stars 
were themselves in haze, making the assessment uncertain. Yet, to 
shine so vividly thru the haze the comet had to still be bright. 
    Thru 7x35 binoculars I saw only a three degree tail; it just could 
not extend more than about 1/2 of the binocular field. It was quite 
smooth and full and symmetrical. The one edge was a little brighter 
than the other side. The head was definitely not stellar; it was a 
tiny ball or dot. 
    In my Questar, which I have been leaving assembled in my room, the 
tail was generally parabolic and even all over. There was only a minor 
darkening along its axis, not a shadow, but just a little less bright. 
The head had a curious aspect. There was a dark section on the leeward 
(relative to the Sun) side. It gave the impression, in the lowest 
power, 40, in the telescope, of a planet in its gibbous phase! The head 
was about the same brightness all over with a modest brightening on 
the windward side. 
    The tail flowed out of this head evenly on both sides. It looked 
so much like an atmosphere around the head rather than an emission or 
issuance from it. It reached about 1 to 1-1/2 degrees in the scope, 
essentially the same as the naked eye extent. There was tonight only a 
mild brush stroke texture. Probably from the haze I didn't notice any 
stars in or near the comet. 
    All color was gone! The comet was all white & gray. And it 
reverted to its 'postcard' guise. One the last two times Hale-Bopp 
actually looked like it was erupting before my eyes. Now it settled 
back into its static mode. Despite this diminished aspect compared to 
earlier this week, the sight was still quite magnificent. 
    By 21:00 EDST the comet was too heavily obscured by haze for 
further inspection and I closed up my tripod for the night. 
 = = = = =
1997 May 7 
    I had a good inspection of Hale-Bopp on Tuesday 6 May 1997 from 
Gelfand's Hill, my Brooklyn residence. I went out at 20:20 Eastern 
Daylight Savings Time, but did not spot Hale-Bopp until 20:50. This 
was because twilight now lasts late into the evening. When I first saw 
it, thru binoculars, it was only 15 degrees up in horizon haze. 
    The sky was amazingly clear and clean, it having become so barely 
a half hour before sunset. The full night transparency, at 22:00 EDST, 
was around 4-1/2. The air was 10C to 15C -- I needed a thin jacket -- 
with a gentle breeze. 
    This day did not in the least offer any chance to see the comet! 
During the day a fierce windstorm sprang up and afflicted parts of the 
City with tornado-like damage. Mostly Staten Island was lashed by the 
storm. The other boros suffered a noontime squall that sent everyone 
scurrying indoors during lunch. Altho the tempest passed quickly and 
the Sun came out, the afternoon was humid and hazy. When I left work 
for home the sky was crazed with gauzey clouds thru which no decent 
comet view could be captured. 
    But as dusk set in I saw the cloud dissolve away, the air dried 
up, and the sky threw out deep red-blue tints in the sunset zone. 
Hey!, maybe I'll get one of my last evening looks at Hale-Bopp? And so 
I did pick up the comet in the deepening twilight. 
    But it was already dancing over the rooftops, just missing a newly 
foliated tree! I could hardly see it by eye; I kept losing it if my 
eye wandered off of it. Being that I could not see Betelgeuse almost 
due west at about the same altitude, I say Hale-Bopp was still a mean 
hombre of a comet of magnitude zero. I couldn't definitely see any 
tail. The whole thing looked like a bright smudge with a brighter lower 
tip, sort of like an exaggerated nebula in a telescope. 
    In binoculars it was a regulation comet. The head was pretty 
starlike, possibly a dot. It was a close call tonight. The tail issued 
from the left side of the head and reached up and a bit to the left, 
say 75 degrees from the left horizontal. I traced it to three degrees, 
which really surprised me on account of the low altitude and residual 
moisture. And this tail was broad and thick and fluffy! 
    I took a flock of pictures right away before hale-Bopp sank too 
low. The first set I believe missed the comet for it may have dipped 
behind a tree. I, to be safe, took a second set from an alley next to 
my house. From there Hale-Bopp was certainly in the clear but now it 
teased a rooftop. 
    Telescopicly the comet, except for overall brilliance, was still 
an active mother. I continued using my Questar, which I left set up 
from previous Hale-Bopp sightings. The head was a planetary ball, not 
a stellar point. The left side of the head had all the action with 
streams of tail gushing out. The center of light extended from the 
head itself, along streamlines of the issuing material, into the tail. 
It was about 1/2 degree long. This explains the smudge I saw by eye. 
The right side of the head was quiet. Only thin shoots of tail came 
out there. This right side was much flatter and sharper than the left. 
Yet the entire parabolic envelope was quite obvious. The left half 
was filled with bright material and had brush stroke texture and the 
right was a thin weakly shining glow. The parabolic angle was about 60 
degrees, definitely wider than that of 26th April. 
    Tonight the tail was unbalanced. The tail flowed out of the head 
and pretty much stayed along the left side of the axis. Only after two 
degrees out from the head -- almost the outer limit of the tail in the 
scope -- did the tail distribute itself into a symmetrical whole. 
This long tail length, given the atmospheric impediment, was 
achieved at the end of my viewing session. When the head sank behind 
the rooftop the tail stood out much more plainly. I watched as it, 
too, sank out of sight. I counted off two whole degrees of it before 
nothing but plain sky was left. And at this moment, 21:15 EDST, 
observing terminated. 
    I am extremely grateful I got this view tonight. I fear that this 
here week will be the final evening opportunity for the comet. Oh, of 
course, I'll catch it again in the autumn morning as a binocular 
    I did get a fleeting look at the comet from home on Sunday the 4th 
of May. Clouds hovered in the west and northwest, blocking all clear 
view. At one instant Hale-Bopp shone thru a gap for several seconds, 
then it was gobbled up for the rest of the night. In binoculars -- I 
never caught by eye then -- it was a lucid point with a fanned tail. 
That chilled my heart. Would that be my last Hale-Bopp session? 
    In particular, I really look forward to the array in the evening 
of Thursday the 8th of May. Then the Hyades, crescent Moon, and Hale- 
Bopp stack up above the sunset point! From my experience tonight -- 
and assuming a clear dry sky on the 8th! -- the Hyades are good and 
lost in twilight. But the Moon and Hale-Bopp will be quite a sight! 
 = = = = =