Comet Hale–Bopp (formally designated C/1995 O1) is a comet that was one of the most widely observed of the 20th century and one of the brightest seen for many decades.
Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp discovered Comet Hale–Bopp separately on July 23, 1995, before it became visible to the naked eye. It is difficult to predict the maximum brightness of new comets with any degree of certainty, but Hale–Bopp exceeded most predictions when it passed perihelion on April 1, 1997, reaching about magnitude −1.8. It was visible to the naked eye for a record 18 months, due to its massive nucleus size. This is twice as long as the Great Comet of 1811, the previous record holder. Accordingly, Hale–Bopp was dubbed the great comet of 1997.
The comet was discovered independently on July 23, 1995, by two observers, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, both in the United States.
Hale had spent many hundreds of hours searching for comets without success, and was tracking known com