It was supposed to have been the biggest cometary event of the millennium. It was seen further out then any other comet in human history, and even then it was behaving strangely. Throwing off a streaming corona of cometary tail well beyond the orbit of Jupiter (much before it would have been predicted), it sparked early tabloid prognostications as the "world killer asteroid" that has crept into, at least, a national cultural consciousness, if not one for the entire world.
It spawned a new age of ufological awareness, dragged scale encrusted eyes to fathomless skies, and even compelled many of the spiritually hapless to sacrifice their very lives to it. As it drew closer and closer there was a contingent maintaining the comet as the "Wormwood" of ancient prophesy, sent by fate to end a world age and poison the Earth with plagues, pestilence and perdition, or seed it with a terrible new kind of life.
It was a huge comet! The actual size was the subject of angry debate, but as it coasted by a *watching* Earth (in its odd parabola from beneath an otherwise placid solar system) it spawned from five to eight simultaneous cometary tails. I was fortunate to be able to look at the comet with some binocular night vision devises of military manufacture. The comet looked like a spiny starfish crawling on a sea bottom of flashing stellar sand. How odd it was that the solar wind would blow off cometary tails of different intensity in such disparate directions. Even the colors of the tails were different in the few tails that could be seen with naked eye. Everything is green in the viewing field night vision goggles.
As already mentioned, it was a huge event, causing much spilled sturm and tortured drang, and one would have predicted (given the closeness of its approach) that it would also be a very heavily photographed event. Indeed, the photographs that were taken became the subject of much hysteria, speculation, and distraction, but where were the Hubble, or other big mirror portraits of one of the rarest astrological events of our time, and they become unsettlingly conspicuous in their ominous absence!!
There are none, none that will even be produced in the face of serious challenge by brave persons such as the late Chuck Shrameck, who photographed an early (and still contested) companion to the inexplicably ignored comet. Oh, there are curious photos at close approach by amateur star hounds of ten inches or less; moreover, other recent (but lesser) comets were suitably recorded . . . but NO published pictures from the eyes of the big dogs regarding the comet in question -- none. None at it's closest anyway. How can this possibly BE (these pictures MUST exist!), and what is the HIGH STRANGENESS regarding the comet known as Hale-Bopp?
SOMEBODY KNOWS !