What was that Asteroid/Comet in the 90s?

  • I am now in my mid 20s and I remember when I was 6-10 years old, there was a comet or asteroid that flew really close to earth. I remember being able to see the object very clearly as if it were the moon. I also live in the west coast of the United States. What was this object?

    "I remember being able to see the object very clearly as if it were the moon." - I'm certain no asteroid approach has ever been that large (in modern history, anyway). So I'm sorry, but I'm pretty sure you mis-remembered. But that's OK; you were only six :) Comet Hale-Bopp might be a possible though, as HDE's answer; it **was** very impressive from a dark sky.

    I live in Southern California and I saw it. It was huge.

  • HDE 226868

    HDE 226868 Correct answer

    6 years ago

    Was it Comet Hale-Bopp? It was discovered in 1995, but made a very close approach in 1997, earning it the nickname "The Great Comet of 1997".

    Wikipedia states

    As it passed perihelion on April 1, 1997 the comet developed into a spectacular sight. It shone brighter than any star in the sky except Sirius, and its dust tail stretched 40–45 degrees across the sky. The comet was visible well before the sky got fully dark each night, and while many great comets are very close to the Sun as they pass perihelion, comet Hale–Bopp was visible all night to northern hemisphere observers.

    Image courtesy of Wikipedia user LoopZilla under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Austria license.

    My second guess is Comet Hyakutake, which made an extremely close approach to Earth in 1996 - becoming "The Great Comet of 1996".

    I did some googling and this comet came up too but to be honest I am not sure. I remember it looked like an asteroid though. If a comet were close would you be able to see its tail? Not like in the picture.

    @NuWin Do you mean in an approach close to Earth?

    Yes. Just imagine your looking at the moon on a clear day. This object was that visible and big.

    It could have been Hale-Bopp. Another good candidate is Hyakutake, which you might also have heard of.

    It is possible. So in conclusion there was no nearby asteroid in the 90s?

    @NuWin There were many, but there weren't a lot that would have been as visible as you say.

    It was Hale-Bopp. I lived in a pretty rural area at the time, and the comet was high in the sky and very easily seen with the naked eye. It was a very classic example of a comet. And though I observed it often with a good pair of binoculars, I never saw the mother ship. Comets are one of the things that a person can live a life time and never see. I'm glad I saw Hale-Bopp, and I hope I get to see another.

    @NuWin - You wouldn't have seen an asteroid in the '90's, or at any other time, looking like a comet. Asteroids and comets have completely different material compositions. If you were to have seen an actual asteroid that close, it would have made the news like nothing else.

    yupp. :) I remember it too, and I remember it being announced, and referred to as something that sounded an awful lot like "Hale-Bopp". That is it, and it looked just like that, too. A very strange sight that has an unreal feel looking back on it from now at 28 years (908 Ms) of age, that, sadly, we've never seen repeated.

License under CC-BY-SA with attribution

Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

Tags used