Skip to content


Alan Hale Recovers Comet with LCO Telescopes

Sep 15, 2023

Comet 13P/Olbers recovery image(s) from August 24. This is a stack of the two exposures with combined exposure time of 20 minutes. Image Credit: Alan Hale

With observations from the Las Cumbres Observatory global network of telescopes, Dr. Alan Hale has located the Comet 13P/Olbers, which was last seen in 1956. Comet 13P/Olbers is a Halley-type comet discovered on March 6, 1815, by Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers at Bremen, Germany.

Dr. Hale is best known for the co-discovery of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1995 and he continues his exploration of space from the Earthrise Institute, which he founded in New Mexico in 1993.

He first began searching for Comet 13P in October 2022, utilizing the telescopes of LCO, which he accesses through the Global Sky Partners program. In mid-June 2023, the comet emerged into the morning sky and he was making observation attempts on a biweekly basis.

On August 24, Dr. Hale took two 10-minute exposures with one of the 1.0-meter telescopes at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. When examining these images, he spotted a faint moving object near the predicted path of the comet. Using this information, he successfully detected images of the comet on exposures that had been taken on August 13 at the LCO observatory in South Africa.

“The pre-recovery images are very weak, and I’m not surprised I failed to notice them at the time. Since then I have obtained follow-up images of the comet on several occasions using LCO telescopes at both facilities,” Dr Hale said. “Indeed, it was the unique nature of LCO that made the recovery, and especially the confirmation, feasible.”

Based upon its behavior during previous returns, Comet Olbers should reach a peak brightness, 7th magnitude, when near perihelion next June.

LCO congratulates Dr. Alan Hale on the recovery of Comet 13P/Olbers. We will post updates as its orbit brings it closer to Earth.