The Global Situation Report – In November of 1996 controversy erupted around incoming comet Hale-Bopp when an amateur astronomer claimed that it had a companion and a noted remote viewer said that the companion was an incoming starship. The previous April, the Japanese National Observatory had posted a photograph of the comet on its website showing the object, and initial reports from some other observatories seemed to confirm it. But nothing ever indicated that the object, if present, was a spacecraft.

Astronomers around the world joined together in condemning the reports. In January of 1997, it was discovered that photographs put forward as evidence were actually doctored images. Nevertheless, in March 39 people committed suicide together in an apparent attempt to reach the passing ‘starship.’

Now, according to a press release from the journal New Scientist, Zdenek Sekanina of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has claimed that the comet does indeed have a companion. In five of six Hubble Space Telescope images of the comet taken in 1995 and 1996, Sekanina found a bright patch that he believes is a satellite about 26 miles wide orbiting about 160 miles from Hale-Bopp’s nucleus. Harold Weaver, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University who provided the Hubble images Sekanina analyzed, strongly doubts that “Baby Bopp” is real. “He’s just trying to squeeze too much out of the data,” says Weaver.

“I like Sekanina’s idea, and I tend to believe it,” says Brian Marsden of the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “But it’s not an easy type of observation to make, and I’m afraid Sekanina is in the minority.”

Minority or not, Sekanina is sure of what he’s seen. “If there were one image, I wouldn’t believe it at all,” he says. “With two, I’d still be skeptical. But I found it on five.”

But it still doesn’t mean that the object is a spacecraft, and there remains not the slightest trace of evidence that this might be so.

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