…continuedHow Yuji Hyakutake Found His Comet
"The zenith began to clear around 4:00 a.m. I turned my binoculars to see C/1995 Y1. When the binoculars were pointing almost straight up, I managed to catch three objects together, M101, NGC 5474, and then C/1995 Y1 a little smaller than M101. My comet was about 9th magnitude, 8' in diameter.
"It was about 20 minutes later when I unexpectedly came across a cometlike object. Judging from constellations glimpsed between passing clouds, it seemed to be situated southeast of Corvus.... I was very familiar with the star field of this area because I had often observed C/1995 Y1 there.... I said to myself, `I must be dreaming.'
"I left my binoculars for a while to calm myself down, and then I started drawing the cometlike object relative to the background stars. It was much more condensed than C/1995 Y
"It was 4:50 a.m. when I looked at my watch after marking its position. I had to confirm whether it was moving or not. At 5:40 a.m. morning twilight began. I again went back to the binoculars. I couldn't confirm the motion.... I concluded that the `possible comet' should be coming directly toward the Earth.
"I came back home and checked for comets that had already been discovered, but I couldn't find reports referring to the cometlike object in question. So I began to draw up a report." Hyakutake sent the notice to Tokyo's National Astronomical Observatory and to cometary orbit expert Syuichi Nakano. At around 3 a.m. the next morning Nakano faxed him that the comet was real.
"My discovery wasn't reported very widely by the Japanese media until recently," Hyakutake said in Chicago. "My wife can't make phone calls because the phone is always ringing. I'm a bit perplexed by all the attention paid to me, when it is the comet that deserves the credit."