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Memorable Comets

Comet Bradfield
C/1980 Y1 (Bradfield) = 1980t

    Mr. Bradfield is a leading Australian comet hunter. In 1980 he came to Japan and visited Geisei Observatory. While in Japan, he met with many Japanese comet observers and enjoyed scholarly exchanges with them and their friendship. I think he looked forward to meeting Mr. Minoru Honda, but the meeting of the two great comet observers from both hemispheres did not take place.

    Mr. Bradfield has discovered many comets using a telescope with a 5-inch (12.5cm) Japanese lens. Many of his comets are relatively faint. The photograph below was taken by a 40cm reflector (whose mirror was ground by Mr. Kojima) in 1980 when Geisei's 60cm reflector did not exist. A copy of this photograph was given to Mr. Bradfield as a gift to mark his visit to Geisei in 1980. His latest discovery in 2003 was made as a result of his efforts to find Kreutz comets and he seems to have been focusing on bright ones. Comet Ikeya-Seki of 1965, a Kreutz comet, must have been easily visible in Australia, but he said he had not been in astronomy back then. Later, he would travel to a desert to observe driving over a distance of more than 100 km almost every day. Here in Japan, Mr. Hyakutake traveled to outer suburbs with his heavy 15cm binoculars loaded in his car. At his observing site, he unloaded it and set it up for observing. In reality, discovery is rare, even if you continue this sort of back-breaking hard work day after day. After all, discovery is made possible by the observer's energy, and of course, boundless passion. Back in the 19th century, the American comet hunter Lewis Swift used to travel to a factory far away from his home and climbed onto its rooftop observing site. When frost or snow was on the roof, it was slippery and he had to crawl over the roof tiles. People, whose names are long remembered, have made unimaginably arduous efforts to achieve their goals.

Comet Bradfield C/1980 Y1 (Bradfield) = 1980t
3-minute exposure from 18:25, January 8, 1981 (J.S.T.)
40cm reflector, TRI-X film

Copyright © 2006 Tsutomu Seki.