A bright comet will appear in our skies about
once every 20 years on the average. We have been
privileged to have recently witnessed two bright
comets in consecutive years: Comet Hyakutake in
1996 and Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. As an added
bonus, the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts into
Jupiter in 1994 was literally a once in a millennium
event that we won't see happen again for a long,
A large comet with a diameter of about 40 km (25
miles), Comet Hale-Bopp reached a magnitude of
about -1 in the spring of 1997, the brightest
comet since Comet West in 1976.
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke into 21 fragments
and put on a spectacular show in the summer of
1994 when each fragment crashed into Jupiter.
In the spring of 1996, this small comet made a
close flyby of Earth (0.10 AU) with a magnitude
of 0. Comet Hyakutake also sported a 100 degree
tail, the longest tail ever observed!
November 26, 2003