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Week 11


Special Topic: Comet 1P/Halley

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MARCH 8, 1772: A French amateur astronomer, Jacques Montaigne, discovers a comet that is followed for one month and that reaches 7th magnitude. Over the next 5½ decades the comet is discovered on two subsequent returns, the latter of these being in 1826 by an Austrian army officer, Wilhelm von Biela, for whom it was …

Comet 1P/Halley 1982i’s Perihelion: 1986 February 9.46, q = 0.587 AU  Those of us space-minded people who came of age during the middle decades of the 20th Century learned of Comet Halley and its impending return in 1986, and many of us undoubtedly heard stories of its appearance during its excellent return in 1910; my paternal …

To our ancestors of just a few centuries ago, comets were, at best, mysterious objects, very possibly of divine or supernatural origin. When one considers that bright comets could appear anywhere in the nighttime sky, seemingly out of nowhere, and after being visible for a few days or weeks would then disappear, it is little …