Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock was a very interesting comet. On its way to one of the closest known approaches a comet has made to Earth, it entered our skies rather quickly. In addition, early confusion relating to its discovery prevented any formal announcements of the comet from being mailed until 1983 May 4. I had not yet received my copy of the announcement, when on the night of May 9, as I sat and watched the evening news, a naked-eye comet was reported moving across the sky near the Big Dipper. I grabbed a pair of binoculars and headed outside. Without my eyes becoming dark adapted I spotted the comet rather quickly without the binoculars. It was a large diffuse object with a diameter larger than the moon's apparent diameter.
This image was taken on 1983 May 10.18 (10:20 p.m. CDT on May 9). This was a 15-second unguided exposure with the camera simply sitting on top a tripod. I used Kodak 400 ASA film and a 50mm lens. The comet is just below the center and is magnified in the inset. The large diffuse object located toward the lower left of the comet is a small cloud moving across the sky.
This image was taken on 1983 May 11.23 (11:33 p.m. CDT on May 10). This was a 2-minute guided exposure with the camera located on the 6-inch reflector. I used Kodak 1000 ASA film and a 50mm lens. The comet is just below the center and is magnified in the inset. Even though the comet was brighter on this date, the diffuse streaks across the picture are the clouds drifting across the sky, so that the comet's brightness is subdued.