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I first cut a glimpse of Ikeya- Zhang through my field glass, at the end of March when the comet was just 20 degrees above the horizon and only observable in the evening.

The sight was far from remarkable as the comet was very badly placed, in the most light-polluted area of the sky, more exactly to the northwest just above a power station.

Given the circumstances, it was still easily discernible through my field glass; it had a high degree of condensation towards the nucleus and a tail about half a degree long.

After almost a month, on April 28th 2002, I saw the comet from my house in the country, when it was circumpolar. It was easy to see with the naked eye, in the constellation Draco. The comet was superb, seen through my 114-mm telescope its tail was straight, two degrees long, and its diffuse coma was highly condensed to the center.

C/2001 V1 NEAT

Comet V1 NEAT
V1 NEAT in the first days of February. B. Dintinjana/J. Skvarc

On February 3rd 2003 after two weeks of cloudy sky I finally succeeded in seeing the comet, right after sunset, at about 20 degrees above the western horizon.

I saw it from my hometown on a very bright sky, through my 60-mm field glass. I couldn’t see the comet in its entire splendor as it may be seen on a dark sky in the country, but it did worth trying. I estimated the magnitude at 4.8 (a little uncertain) and a condensation degree of 6. With averted vision I managed to see the comet’s tail, 4 arcminutes long in position angle 60.

My next observation came on February 6th. Magnitude 4.8, condensation degree 6, coma diameter 4 arcminutes. The tail was 3 arcminutes long in position angle 70. The following evening I managed to see the comet in the twilight, ten minutes after sunset. V1 NEAT appeared like a small white patch lapping over the blue sky. After it had got dark I estimated its magnitude to be 4.5, 3 arcminutes coma diameter and condensation degree 7. The comet’s tail was easily discernible, 15 arcminutes long in position angle 70.

C/2002 O4 Hoenig

Comet O4 Hoenig
Sketch showing Comet O4 Hoenig.

I first saw comet C/2002 04 Hoenig on August 2nd 2002, a short while after its rediscovery. At that time I was attending a star party, and I was trying my hardest to find a very faint galaxy in the constellation Sagittarius. My attempt at finding anything at all failed, so I let the matter drop and set out to look for the comet. I had the equatorial coordinates for that night and I determined its position on Sky Atlas 2000, approximating a few arc minutes because I had not even had a ruler with me.

After the clouds scattered, I started looking through my 114-mm telescope and after a short while the comet appeared within my 36x field. I estimated the coma’s diameter at about 6′, diffuse appearance, and no visible condensation towards the nucleus. Evidently, it had no tail. I also observed the comet two other nights in mid-August, when it was circumpolar and had a brighter magnitude. Its appearance was unchanged, except for a greater degree of condensation in the nucleus area.

C/2001 A2 LINEAR

C/2001 A2 LINEAR was the first comet I saw through an instrument, my 60-mm Tasco-Carena field glass. On the night of July 12th 2001, I mounted the field glass on my balcony and at the end of 10 minutes search I found it. It had a diffuse appearance, high condensation degree toward the nucleus, and it made me think of an unresolved globular cluster. The following nights I made no further observations.

I saw it again at the beginning of August, through a Meade LX 50 telescope. The comet’s appearance was unchanged but much of its brightness had gone.

C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp

Comet Hale Bopp
Comet Hale Bopp. Wally Pacholka

The comet Hale-Bopp was an “individual rediscovery” for me, one evening in April 1997. I went out on my balcony to gaze at the stars (my first astronomical observations) and there it was, to the north.

Much to my regret I only saw it from the city on a very light-polluted sky, I may have missed the chance of seeing the “Comet of the century” in its entire splendor, on a dark sky.

I remember watching the comet for one hour, it was very bright and it had a long tail which I now estimate to have been of 4 degrees. I noticed it among clouds the following nights, but I now regret not having taken a trip out of the city and watched it on the dark country sky.

C/1996 B2 Hyakutake

In 1996 I was at the premises of my interest for astronomy and now I’m positive that this interest was much fed by the lure this comet was to me. I saw Hyakutake on a superb sky in the country, and the view was magnificent.

The comet reigned over the morning sky, with an extremely long, bright tail; I saw it two nights in a row. I cannot remember much about it, I was only 13 years old at the time and it is been quite a while since then.

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