Comet Hyakutake is a comet that was discovered in January 1996 and passed very close to the Earth in March of that year. It was one of the closest cometary approaches to the Earth in the last 200 years. The comet became very bright in the night sky, and, as a result, it was seen by a large number of people around the world. The comet temporarily upstaged the long-awaited Comet Hale-Bopp, which was approaching the inner solar system at the time, although Hyakutake was only at its brightest for a few days.
The comet was discovered on January 30, 1996 by Yuji Hyakutake, an amateur astronomer from southern Japan. He had been searching for comets for some years and had moved to Kagoshima partly for the dark skies in the nearby rural areas. He was using a powerful set of binoculars with six-inch objective lenses to scan the skies on the night of the discovery.