The frames are part of a movie of 19 55P/Tempel-Tuttle images taken when the comet only 0.36 Astronomical Units, or 33 million miles, from Earth and moving at just over 6 degrees per day. The images of the comet are elongated because it has moved during each exposure of 1.5 minutes. The images were taken with the University of Cambridge Three-Mirror Telescope. The exposures were made at intervals of 4 minutes, keeping the telescope pointing to the same background stars. The telescope has a focal length of 80 cm (32 inches) and an unusually large primary mirror 20 inches in diameter (f/1.6) (though the effective aperture is reduced to about 15 inches (f/2.1) by the unavoidable obstruction caused by the second mirror).
Jonathan Shanklin from Cambridge, England, reported his sighting of comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle on January 16, 1998:
"The comet is around 9th mag, but large and very diffuse so that it appears fainter telescopically than it does in binoculars. Last night (Jan 15.75) I made it 9.0 in 10x50B with a diameter of 12', but by contrast the previous night it was around 8.5 in 20x80B and 10.6 in a 0.20-m f14 refractor x40"