As I write this article, Hale Bopp is passing closest to the Earth (23rd March) and I thought I'd provide Enigma readers with the latest update of developments to occur since issue 12.
The first interesting discovery I made since the last issue, happened almost immediately it had gone to print. I was reading through a book on Nostradamous's predictions, published in 1994 (well before Hale Bopp was discovered), doing research for a different topic. However, I stumbled across a paragraph which may be of relevance now.
Century II, Quatrain 41 states,
The book in question then went on to describe how initially people identified the 'Great Star' as referring to Halley's comet. However, as the last two appearances of this comet were rather unspectacular, people then went on to speculate as to the possible destruction of the Earth by atomic warfare and nuclear explosions - throwing great clouds of dust into the atmosphere.
Although the subsequent lines don't seem to have relevance to Hale Bopp, the 'Great Star' reference seems more logical to me than Halley's comet or indeed, Atomic annihilation.
The one thing which brought it to my attention was the reference to boiling for seven days. As readers may be aware, comets are made from huge chunks of ice which 'boils' away as they get nearer to the sun, forming the familiar 'tail'. Hale Bopp passes closest to the Earth on 23rd March and then closest to the Sun on 1st April - Seven days. Coincidence? I'll leave that one to you.
At long last the scientific community seem to be taking big notice of Hale Bopp. Quite a few astronomers and observatories have made recent announcements concerning their respective interests and investigations of Hale Bopp.
The Bigelow Sky Survey team began a gruelling 24 hours a day, five day observing run of Hale Bopp on March 19th. Stephen Larson of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, were using the 61 inch Mount Bigelow telescope in the Santa Catalina mountains, north of Tucson.
Larson described the comet's coma structure as being so complex that he enlisted a collaboration of observers in Germany, Spain, the Canary Islands, the U.S. Naval Observatory, Hawaii and Japan in order to "combine data and make sense of what we are seeing." From observations, Hale Bopp's rotational period is 11.4 hours.
Larson's team is now trying to relate the location of gas molecules to where dust is streaming off Hale Bopp.
According to the JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) ephemeris information (JPL ref. Solution 55, Planetary Ephemeris DE403) and confirming my data in Enigma 12, the original orbital period before entering the Solar System was 4200 years, whereas it's future orbital period on leaving the Solar System will be 2380 years. This data confirms that Hale Bopp was last passing Earth around 2203 BC.
According to the JPL news release the difference between the inbound and outbound orbital periods is due primarily to an approach to Jupiter (0.77 AU) in April 1996. (AU refers to 'Astronomical Units, one of which is equivalent to the distance between Earth and the Sun - 93 million miles)
Also, just released is the European Space Agency's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) analysis of Hale Bopp, discussing their findings during the inspection period of Spring to Autumn 1996. Observations at other times were ruled out because of the need to keep the ISO telescope extremely cold and restricted it's movement in relation to the Sun's position.
When Hale Bopp was first observed by the ISO telescope, in March 1996, it was still some 435 million miles from the Sun - and almost as far from Earth and the ISO.
By detecting wavebands that are inaccessible from the Earth's surface, ISO discovered that carbon dioxide was an important constituent of the comet's vapour emissions. ISO was also able to measure the temperature of the dust cloud around Hale Bopp - which at the time was -120°C. Later, when ISO made further observations in October 1996 (261 million miles from the Sun), the temperature had risen to about -50°C.
Further spectrometer readings are due for publication towards the end of March, so will be reported in future issues.
As comets are relics from the construction of the Solar System, and played a major role in the formation of the planets, they are a link between the Earth and the wider Universe of stars.
The carbon compounds contained in comets probably contributed raw materials for the origin of life on the Earth, and according to one theory the Earth's oceans were made from comet ice. Growing knowledge of the composition and behaviour of comets is therefore crucial for a fuller understanding of our cosmic origins.
As I write this issue of Enigma, a strange, and sad, incident has just been reported on the International News; 39 people committed suicide in Rancho, Santa Fe, California. According to CNN news broadcasts, they took part in a mass suicide leaving behind videotapes announcing their intention to join a UFO.
This 'UFO' was none other than the alleged Hale Bopp 'Companion' object described in Enigma issue 12.
In the video tapes left behind, group members said their farewells and were "quite joyous" about "leaving this planet". They spoke of their physical bodies being merely "containers" for their higher selves. In fact, the group called themselves "The Higher Source" and ran a business designing Internet Web pages.
Nick Matzorkis, of Interact Entertainment of Beverly Hills, claimed that seven months ago (September 1996 - before Chuck Shramek discovered the 'companion' object) the leader of the group (now among the dead) told him that a UFO was travelling behind Hale Bopp, using the comet as cover from the Earth.
The strange thing about the whole incident is that the group of people calling themselves The Higher Source, or Heaven's Gate seemed quite 'normal'. They ran a successful Internet design company and had fairly mainstream, in New Age terms, ideals - that of being higher souls inhabiting physical bodies which are merely 'containers'. In fact, myself and a number of Enigma subscribers I have spoken to, share broadly similar views.
Could there be something more sinister afoot? Putting my conspiratorial hat on (see Adam Whaley's The Final Conspiracy in Enigma 12) for a moment.... What if they were programmed to commit suicide by the CIA Mind Control project (now confirmed - details coming in a future issue). We know that the governments of the world do not like "religious cults", as they pose a threat to the establishment and can 'corrupt peoples minds', by recruiting many members, which then become uncontrollable - at least in the government's eyes.
I don't believe they sounded like a religious cult - any more than a group of people meditating on Silbury Hill, or gathering in Avebury are a cult. Suddenly it seems that anyone who has 'different' spiritual ideas and aspirations of 'going to a better place', is labelled as a religious cult - at least in the media.