Comet C/1996 B2 Hyakutake
Comet Discovered: January 30, 1996
Earth Closest Approach: March 25, 1996 07:00 UT (0.10 AU)
Sun Closest Approach: May 1, 1996 09:31 UT (0.23 AU)
1 AU = 93 Million Miles = 150 Million Kilometers
Comet Discoverer Hyakutake Dies At 51
"I don't care about the naming of the comet. If many people could enjoy that comet, that is the happiest thing for me."
- Yuji Hyakutake, 1996
On January 30, 1996, Yuji Hyakutake in Japan discovered a new comet using 25x150 binoculars. The comet was designated Comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake). As subsequent observations of the new comet were obtained, Brian Marsden from the IAU Central Bureau was able to compute the comet's orbital elements, and these computations indicated that the comet will pass as close as 0.10 AU (9.3 million miles) from the Earth on March 25, 1996! The comet has become a bright naked-eye object and remained so in March, April and May in 1996. The comet had exceeded expectations, becoming the brighest comet since Comet West in 1976. A long tail of up to 100 degrees was reported, and small fragments have been observed to break off the main nucleus. Comet Hyakutake is indeed the Great Comet of 1996.