This image is a composite of three frames taken on the night of Wednesday March 20th at the Burrell Schmidt telescope, owned by the Warner and Swasey Observatory of Case Western Reserve University and operated by the National Optical Astronomy Observatories jointly for CWRU and the National Science Foundation. The one degree field of view (twice the size of the full moon) makes the Schmidt ideal for survey work and the only professional telescope on Kitt Peak capable of seeing more than just the comet's head. By the evening of Sunday March 24th, Comet Hyakutake was covering more than thirty (30) degrees, or about one fifth the entire sweep of the sky from horizon to horizon. This picture was created by combining three original observations, which explains why each star is a triple, and is available in both black and white and false color versions. The frames were taken about five minutes apart, during which time the comet moved about one and a half arc minutes.
The observations were made by Dr. Michael Gregg (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories) and Dr. Michael West (Saint Mary's University, Canada) along with student Jim Caffey (Southwest Missouri State Univ.), who has been visiting KPNO as part of NOAO's program to expose undergraduate students to active astronomical research. The comet images were incidental to their main program, which is to study the Coma cluster of galaxies. The image enhancements were done by Dr. Nigel Sharp at NOAO.