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View Full Version : When will we see a comet like Hale-Bopp again?



kevin1981
2010-Jul-19, 12:18 AM
I remember in 1997 seeing the Comet Hale-Bopp in the sky. It was such a beautiful and inspiring sight. So when will we see another comet as visible to the naked eye like that again?

Thanks

JustAFriend
2010-Jul-19, 03:38 PM
When another one comes around.

Not all comets orbit the Sun, some are merely visitors to our Solar System.
Others are on irregular orbits or on such long arcs that we can't tell when or if they'll be back again.

You can't predict that.

Nereid
2010-Jul-19, 03:50 PM
Over the past century or so, a really spectacular comet seems to have come, to at least some observers, approx every 20 years.

kevin1981
2010-Jul-19, 04:36 PM
Ok thanks

KaiYeves
2010-Jul-20, 01:01 AM
Over the past century or so, a really spectacular comet seems to have come, to at least some observers, approx every 20 years.

So we have about ten to go? ;)

Hornblower
2010-Jul-20, 01:08 AM
So we have about ten to go? ;)

It could be ten years, or it could be thirty. There is a lot of scatter in the intervals between random events like these. Hale-Bopp followed Hyakutake by about a year, and then McNaught came along ten years later but was hard to see in the northern hemisphere. Comet West graced the sky twenty years before Hyakutake.

KaiYeves
2010-Jul-20, 01:17 AM
It could be ten years, or it could be thirty. There is a lot of scatter in the intervals between random events like these. Hale-Bopp followed Hyakutake by about a year, and then McNaught came along ten years later but was hard to see in the northern hemisphere. Comet West graced the sky twenty years before Hyakutake.

I made a winking emoticon to show I was being silly.

mantiss
2010-Jul-21, 12:42 AM
For some reason Hale-Bopp failed to impress Me, but the weather was absolutely the pits. Hyakutake however was a very nice sight, under dark skies quite the impressive vision, so far the best naked eye comet I've seen.

Nereid
2010-Jul-21, 01:05 AM
Did anyone reading this see Ikeya-Seki (1965)?

antoniseb
2010-Jul-21, 07:15 PM
Did anyone reading this see Ikeya-Seki (1965)?

I saw Ikeya-Seki, but not under favorable circumstances. My experience with Hale-Bopp was much better. Hyakutake was cool too, but it was over so quickly.
Your earlier assessment that there are about five "comets of the century" every century seems about right.

ngc3314
2010-Jul-23, 07:58 PM
For a biased view - depending on whether one counts Halley and Kohoutek, there have been 6-8 bright memorable comets since I've been paying attention, so the average over this time has one every 6-8 years. This incorporates particular definitions of both qualifiers which may not apply for all observers...

I just remember Ikeya-Seki - my father dragged my 7-year-old self out of bed before dawn, and I do remember the tail piercing up like a searchlight beam. I vaguely recall someone having a telescope at school to show us the head in daylight, but no memory of what it looked like. After that there were Bennett in 1970, Kohoutek in 1973 (had to work a bit, but saw it and even got pictures), West in 1976, Halley in 1986, Hyakutake in 1996, Hale-Bopp 1997, McNaught 2007. However, the list on Wikipedia shows that one has to go all the way back to 1927 to find something as bright as the two major comets of 1957 - once again, intuition doesn't do random well at all.

Roger E. Moore
2010-Jul-23, 09:20 PM
Friends and I peered at Kohoutek when it came by in the early 1970s. That was such a bummer, just a tiny fuzzy ball in the telescope eyepiece. And it didn't even cause a cosmic disaster like the books said it would!

Hornblower
2010-Jul-23, 11:44 PM
Friends and I peered at Kohoutek when it came by in the early 1970s. That was such a bummer, just a tiny fuzzy ball in the telescope eyepiece. And it didn't even cause a cosmic disaster like the books said it would!

What books?

Roger E. Moore
2010-Jul-24, 02:30 AM
A paperback came out about 1973-1974 that I recall was in the college bookstores (I was a freshman) called The Comet Kohoutek. It was by an astrologer named (I think) Joseph Goodavage, and the cover blurbs had all sorts of dire predictions about the comet's effects. It looked as lame as it sounds.

Graybeard6
2010-Jul-24, 03:31 PM
I saw Ikeya-Seki from Albuquerque. I was pretty close to the Sun, so not visible for very long, but quite spectacular.

Nereid
2010-Jul-24, 03:34 PM
Somewhat OT: Hale-Bopp was, by some considerable margin, the largest comet to have entered the inner solar system, in the last half century or so, right?

For sure, estimates of the size of cometary nuclei are fraught with considerable uncertainty, but IIRC only Halley came close to being as big as Hale-Bopp ...

mantiss
2010-Jul-24, 08:26 PM
Somewhat OT: Hale-Bopp was, by some considerable margin, the largest comet to have entered the inner solar system, in the last half century or so, right?

For sure, estimates of the size of cometary nuclei are fraught with considerable uncertainty, but IIRC only Halley came close to being as big as Hale-Bopp ...

I've read that 2006/C McNaught is now considered to have been the biggest known comet, but they're talking about "the size of the region of space disturbed by the comet’s presence" and not of the nucleus as per se. I suspect a very active comet with a smaller nucleus could be considered bigger than a larger one with a depleted nucleus.

link here (http://www.astro.gla.ac.uk/nam2010/pr8.php)

Roger E. Moore
2010-Jul-25, 03:49 PM
This topic makes me wonder what the size would be of the largest theoretically possible comet nucleus. I was wondering if you'd get a huge cometary effect if a large Kuiper Belt Object made mostly of ice wandered close to the Sun.

Hungry4info
2010-Jul-25, 04:07 PM
I was wondering if you'd get a huge cometary effect if a large Kuiper Belt Object made mostly of ice wandered close to the Sun.

Sure, why not?

Don Alexander
2010-Jul-25, 11:46 PM
Hyakutake was my first naked-eye comet, and I confess I thought it was pretty boring... And I observed it in good conditions almost at zenith.

Hale-Bopp was incredible.

I missed McNaught. :boohoo: I looked for it during the day when it passed close to the sun and was -6, but nothing doing...

C 2001 Q4 NEAT, finally, was also quite a bummer. The nucleus was huge, it was discovered three years out - and then it was only visible to the naked eye under good conditions.

Now, 17P/Holmes, that was something else, though of course not a traditional comet. I saw it after almost six weeks low over the northern horizon from ESO La Silla observatory in the Chilean Andes, and it was bigger than the full moon. Very impressive.

But, yes, it could be another decade or two - or maybe just a year or two... until we get one like Hale-Bopp again. Remember McNaught was not discovered until something like 10 days before perihelion, IIRC.

George
2010-Jul-26, 01:56 PM
Here is a list of future comets (http://www.aerith.net/comet/future-n.html) and an estimate of their anticipated magnitude and max. altitude (h).

mantiss
2010-Jul-26, 09:12 PM
Remember McNaught was not discovered until something like 10 days before perihelion, IIRC.

6 months actually if you are talking about C/2006 P1, Comet McNaught

kevin1981
2010-Jul-31, 06:41 PM
But, yes, it could be another decade or two - or maybe just a year or two... until we get one like Hale-Bopp again. Remember McNaught was not discovered until something like 10 days before perihelion, IIRC.

Well thats some good news then, i can live in hope that it is a reasonable possibility, that i might get to see another bright comet like Hale-Bopp at some point in my life time :D