Besides the Moon, Sun, planets and billions of stars, no other celestial object has been seen by more humans than the Hale-Bopp comet. Hale-Bopp was discovered by amateur astronomers Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp on this date in 1995, a year where 24-hour news networks starved for any type of news, and a new form of media called the “internet” was beginning to stream information and filthy pornography into homes around the world.
After the discovery by the geek duo and it’s calculated trajectory that suggested Hale-Bopp would be visible for nearly a year then not again for another 4,000 years, interest in the lonely traveler surged. While Halley’s Comet was seen as recently as 1986, the brightness and apparent close orbit of Hale-Bopp more than the worn out Halley ever couldmake’s the former seem a bit blah.
Hale-Bopp madness reached fever pitch when the wackos at the Heaven’s Gate cult saw the comet as a galactic escort for a UFO they claimed was there to transport them away from the coming apocalypse. The folks of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide as a result.
Alas the world didn’t end, and Hale-Bopp eventually exited perihelion and out of our lives.
Hale-Bopp is scheduled to make a return trip to the inner planets around 4385. In two millennia there is a good chance that humans won’t even call Earth home anymore. If we are here, we will have either evolved into a slightly more intelligent species of great ape (with the ability to reproduce asexually thus eliminating the need for human contact), or we devolve back into a sort of chimp-neanderthal hybrid. Whatever the future holds, we will look up at the sky some day, see Hale-Bopp again and think “Oh My God! We are all going to die!”