Hale-Bopp Comet Also Being Followed By Its Own *Tale*
An explanation for the  supposed  mysterious object following the
approaching Hale-Bopp comet was given on "Sounds  Like  Science,"
broadcast  on  National  Public Radio (NPR) on Feb. 1, 1997.  The
following is my transcription of  what was said.  Because I don't
have the names of the two persons involved in the  discussion  of
Hale-Bopp and the "mysterious object," they are designated as "A"
and "B."
  A:   Let's  talk  a  little  about, looking forward to next
  month.  And I know this  spring  is going to be an exciting
  time,  not  only   for   professional   but   for   amateur
  astronomers, because we're getting close to Hale-Bopp comet
  time. Right?
  B:   There  is  a  new  comet  which is now well on its way
  toward the inner  solar  system:   Hale-Bopp.  It should be
  best seen in the evening sky in late March and early April.
  And I'm sure our listeners will be hearing much more  about
  it as the weeks go on.
  A:   I've  got  to  share  something I've discovered on the
  Internet.  Now you've got to take this for what it's worth,
  since it came off  the  Internet.   But there's an Internet
  story -- rumors -- that Hale-Bopp is  being  trailed  by  a
  B:  Oh this is a wonderful story!  We actually now know how
  it  happened.   An  astronomer  was  looking  at  Hale-Bopp
  through  a  telescope and saw what was a perfectly ordinary
  star.  But  because  he  was  using  a  computer program to
  predict what should be out there, he didn't set the setting
  for this program right, and the program  didn't  show  that
  star.   And  he  got  all  scared that there was a star his
  program wasn't showing.  And  he  sent out this big message
  on the Internet: "I've discovered an unknown object!"
     Hale-Bopp has actually turned  out  to  be  a  perfectly
  ordinary  star.   But  this  guy  was so enchanted with his
  discovery, he refused  to  back  down  and went on national
  radio (not NPR, of course, but lesser radio  stations)  and
  announced  this unknown object -- creating a huge, paranoid
  story which is still resonating on the wire.
  A:  Next we're going to hear  that the star had the face of
  Elvis [Presley] on it!
  B: [Laughs] That's right! And came from "the face on Mars!"
     There's nothing  following  Hale-Bopp,  except  its  own
So  there  you  have it.  Conspiracy Nation is inclined to agree,
that there is no UFO following Hale-Bopp.
Not to say, however, that  Hale-Bopp has no significance.  A book
named (as I recall) "Planetary Influence on Human Behavior" lends
support to astrological  ideas.   The  book  shows  statistically
significant   correlations  between  sample  "birth  charts"  and
professional  careers.   A   group   of   famous  actors,  sports
champions, and scientists was taken at random,  and  their  birth
charts were studied.  A definite link between planetary positions
and subsequent careers was established.  So who knows?  Hale-Bopp
may influence human behavior and/or political events in some way.