Hale and Bopp in Atlanta


The Atlanta Astronomy Club hosted the famous comet discovers at one of the monthly meetings. AAS member Robert Rock met Mobile Astronomical Society members Judy Anderson and Sherri Martin, and drove over to Atlanta to meet the now famous pair. While there, they explored Stone Mountain
 
 

Sherri, Judy and Robert with Bopp and Hale in Atlanta

It had not been long just viewing Comet Hyakutake and we were down  at the DSRSG in October 1996. One of the members of the Mobile club and I started just talking about seeing Hale and Bopp in Atlanta and after only a few more discussions about it we decided that we might just could plan something in advance like this. As it turns out Sherri from the Mobile club and Judy had also been discussing going also. A few E-mails later we had it all figured when and where. After having a few small concerns about how to finalize the trip to Fernbank Science Center, I find myself getting about 4 hrs of sleep due to Tornado Warnings the night before. Even with this Sherri and Judy drive up and off we go to the big A. I must say it was a rather quick trip over , had I been driving it would have taken longer. It was nice just to sit back, enjoy the scenery, and get a place to stay before late after the meeting. As it is when you go over to Atlanta , you had better know 2 things. One is What you are going to do and the other is how to find enough time.

We were able to get down to the Science Center and actually had a little time before the Atlanta club started their meeting.  After having been welcomed by Ken Poshedly and a few others we just felt at home. After what seemed like a very short  introduction, both Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp told their stories about the discovery of the comet.  There was only five minutes between the times they found the comet and Hale described his checking in with the Central Bureau as being quite easy since he has a computer inside his home and just waited for the news.  As for Mr Bopp he had it rather rough. He said he had driven many miles back to Glendale, AZ, having problems with phone and telegrams, He in turn finally made it home and sent a telegram to Central Bureau and was later called back of the good news.   For two observers living in two places and having located the same object seemed to be rather unusual. To me and others attending the meeting agreed that Hale and Bopp even looked somewhat alike in the book , Everybody's Comet by Alan Hale.  But after listening to them and also having  waited around long enough for a crowd of over 400 to leave, we actually go to talk to both of them at length. I can say that they do not have the exact same personality, but both were very nice to have met and also can say that their discovery of Hale-Bopp will be something for us all to remember. I can highly recommend the book. It goes into just about anything you could want to know about comets.

As for later we had a late dinner at Shoney`s and met up with Ken Poshedly the next morning.  Sherri wanted to see Stone Mountain and we all came up with a few quick things to do before going. After taking in the Gwinnette Mall we followed Ken to his home in Snellville.  Where the name comes from I do not know, and he does not either. It was a very pleasant day and after going up on Stone Mountain, Sherri comes up with an idea.   She asked me what the top of the mountain looked like and I told her over 7 yrs ago I said it was an asteroid.  She agrees, I must say others did not but for those who have never seen this big old rock just sort of sticking out of the ground and no others near it , you ought to go see it. Then you decide. Who really knows what happened millions of years ago. Anybody  I know was not around and a crazy idea of a mile wide asteroid might not be so bad after all. They are out there.

On the way home Sherri and Judy decide they want barbecue and I headed them towards Tallasee to Johnny G`s. Everyone got their fill and then since we were so close I mentioned our observing site. Well as it turns out we were not dressed for the rather cool weather and the Star Party lasted about 10 minutes. We observed Orion , the Dipper,  M45, Hyades, and a few other objects. The skies were not all that great but Judy commented that the site was pretty good. As for Sherri she said her Grandmother has a place that will beat this one. I happen to know about where it is and for those in the club who may be interested we may just have a nice invite down to the Western part of the state before long.

Robert