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Re: Tholen Caught DOCTORING Hale-Bopp Images!

Article: <5f72g9$>
From: )
Subject: Re: Tholen Caught DOCTORING Hale-Bopp Images!
Date: 28 Feb 1997 16:52:25 GMT

In article <5f3227$lsn@news.Hawaii.Edu> David Tholen writes:
>Nancy writes:
>> So .. where did the thumbnail impression come from?
>> If its not in the 3 FITS images,
> It's easy to enhance a particular brightness range in a digital
> image by setting the stretch to specific levels that isolate that
> range. It's easy to make a bright feature look dark, and it's
> easy to make a dark feature look bright. Does your television
> have brightness and contrast controls?

Dave, I went to your web site at:

and located the FITS archives by the search engine there, which had 3 FITS pages for Hale-Bopp, all three with the term "companion" in the description so I assume they were posted during the Sharmek/Bell/Strieber flap. From page

I downloaded a red, green, and blue named ccd024_02.jpg, ccd025_02.jpg, and ccd026_02.jpg. The whole area called Hale-Bopp was so bright that I couldn't make anything out, like a Sun in the center of the JPG. Going back to see if selecting another set would allow better analysis, I noticed an odd thing. When the page is first coming in, these little thumbnails show DIFFERENT STAGES of images, as though there were several overlays coming in, each making certain areas brighter, etc. At first, the area where Hale-Bopp is supposed to be is almost black, but the stars in the plate are bright. Then the center part gets rapidly brighter, in successive passes. What's going on there? Is the image in fact SEVERAL images, being overlaid? How come the background stars don't increase in brightness, just the center part, as this is going on?

I note you speak to the issue of "digital image processing techniques", which you state was most likely used to insert the fake-o companion into the Shramek/Bell/Strieber image causing the flap. What's that process, Dave, could you describe it?


Images of comet Hale-Bopp showing an allegedly mysterious companion object have appeared on web sites with the URLs and

These images are fraudulent. The mysterious companion object is not real, having been added to the image most likely using digital image processing techniques. The original image appears at a web site with the URL I took this image on 1995 September 1 using the University of Hawaii 2.24-m telescope shortly before 6 hours UTC (or about 8 p.m. on August 31 Hawaiian Standard Time).