I don't think that there is much real doubt that Hale-Bopp has a companion, despite the fact that the astronomical community is inexplicably denying the reality of an object that many observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope appear to have been aware of for months.
I have known this for certain ever since I saw the image posted by the Japanese National Observatory a week ago. The reason is simple, and I am troubled that so many astronomers have ignored this inescapable fact even though the most rudimentary professional observation reveals without any ambiguity that the object pictured beside the comet is precisely what the Japanese first claimed: an anomaly that is traveling with it.
To be completely certain, I sought out an astronomer who is unaware of the controversy and showed him the picture. I did not even identify the comet. (In fact, I had a friend show it to him during a class. He was not told what astronomical bodies were involved.) He was asked what the picture meant. He said: "These two objects are traveling together. You can see that with the naked eye because both objects are clear and the star field behind them is streaking. The 'scope that took the picture was following the objects." He was then asked if they were stars. He responded: "Neither is. One is clearly a comet, and since they're moving together the other isn't a star." He was asked what it was. His response, chuckling: "that's an interesting question."
That about sums it up. I have been hoping that the astronomical community would respond sensibly to this inexplicable datum like this. There is no known natural mechanism to explain how a self-luminous object of substantial size could travel near a comet without it's mass affecting the comet's trajectory.
A Failure of Scientific Reporting
I am saddened to seen that this entire community of people of science has chosen to remain silent. It is not enough to say that the public would "panic" or be misled into believing that the object is an incoming starship full of aliens, and therefore that the public should be denied its rights.
It is not the business of science or anybody else to second-guess the public. The people support science. Findings cannot be concealed from them simply because they are hard to explain, not by moral men.
I have stated again and again in the media and on my website that there is absolutely no proof that this is an inhabited alien craft. I have also entertained the notion that it may be, in order to explore what that might mean before it ends up on our doorstep-as unlikely an outcome as I consider that would be. Like me, the rest of the public is generally perfectly well aware that the object may be entirely natural. And even if it isn't, then why should we need to be protected from that? To the contrary, any professional community making such a discovery ought to be eager to inform the rest of us so that we could, calmly and rationally, prepare for every eventuality.
If it is an object of intelligent origin-well, then, what a joyous event! Why deny such a possibility and try to hide it? There is absolutely no reason for this, none at all. In fact, on the chance that it is of intelligent origin we ought to be making every signal we possibly can! What a fabulous turn of history for us, the luck to be found in this vast dark universe, never to be alone anymore.
Could I Be (gulp!) Wrong?
In the unlikely event that I am wrong, I will be the first to publish my own correction and apology, but I don't think so, and have not thought so since the first instant I laid eyes on the Japanese image. How can the object be a star when the whole star field, except for the object and the comet, is streaking? This is an impossibility of physics, no matter where the "star" might be in relation to the comet.
The Neff Compilation
And this gets me to the compilation of images assembled by James Neff. Not only do these images reveal the object near the comet, and often even in the same position, they also show that it displays its characteristic "spiked" appearance through numerous different telescopes. Images from amateur and professional ground-based scopes and from the Hubble all reveal this characteristic. Thus, it cannot be dismissed as a result of a smudge, a lens effect or a defect in the CCD system, not when its appearance is consistent across so many different lenses-and when other images, readily available from the professional 'scopes, do not display this characteristic.
Give Us the Data
I do not intend to wait patiently for Hale-Bopp to return from its voyage around the sun. Who knows if the object will be near it then? The proof that the object has moving in tandem with it for months is already present in the astronomical community, and I demand my rights: I want that object studied, and I want you to share your professional findings with us. Please settle down and tell us everything that you have discovered about the object, and leave it at that.
The Hale Challenge
Alan Hale issued a challenge to the amateur community: go out and take a look at the comet. We were told that we would see that it's sailing a lonely course, just as has been claimed. This is one report back from the front, contributed by Bill Hamilton of the MUFON organization:
"On Saturday night, Dec. 7th, a small group of us from MUFON AZ went out to our desert skywatch location to look for comet Hale-Bopp. We spotted it first with binoculars a little after sunset. We had to wait for the sky to darken in the west. It was low in the west, maybe 15 degrees. above the horizon and just a little north of the Milky Way. We had three telescopes, our best being a Celestron C-8. Now, Alan Hale has said to go out and look for ourselves. We did, but it still looks like there is a second bright object near Hale-Bopp! We switched to a 187X power eyepiece to look at it one last time before it descended into western haze."
And so Hale-Bopp and its enigmatic companion sail on... whither will they go?
Original file name: CNI - HB Truth.Whitley
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